In my last article on Indian wind energy, I had ended the discussion with an all-time high, capacity addition of 5.4 GW in 2016-17. It was 43% more than the expectation. In the financial year of 2015-16 also India added 3.4GW wind capacity. So good! What happened next? After 2017 things didn’t progressed as calculated. Capacity addition in 2017-18 was 2.3GW and in 2018-19 it was 1. 5GW and in 2019-20 it is expected to add 2. 9GW max. So, there is a clear decline in projected growth in wind energy in India. During 2016, it was clearly visible that to attain the goal of 60 GW by 2022, India had a room to add 8 to 10 GW per year. I can recall a speech of Mr. Tulsi Tanti, Chairman & CMD of Suzlon, emphasizing this potential and showing exuberance for a shining growth for the industry. Unfortunate, that couldn’t happen and instead of growth, entire industry has gone into recession since then. On the ground, from 2014-15 (2.311GW) to December 2019, there has been an increase of only 30% in capacity addition. Indian wind industry is struggling to survive.
Though in the global scale, as per the data published by Global Wind Council in 2020, India is still in 4thposition with 37.669GW total wind energy capacity as of Dec,2019, but this is not the pace with which industry was expected to run to catch up the target of 60GW.Things have gone completely unpredictable and disastrously mismanaged on the part of government. It is now well established that the quick migration from ‘feed in tariff’ to ‘reverse bidding’ had been done without much preperation and with improper planning. Many documents are openly available on the web to understand this fact.
However, after observing the running situation and the corrections, those were taking place during 2019, I was hopeful that the sector will take up a speedy turn again in 2020 and we will see a sprint taking place to complete remaining GWs by next three years i.e. up to 2022. It was appearing possible at that point of time, as there was sufficient manufacturing capacity available with OEMs. What I couldn’t foresee was the bureaucratic hurdles in central, as well as in state level machinery. As a result, it is now very tough to achieve the commitment given by India’s Prime Minister at the COP21 UN Climate Change Conference in Oct.2016.
You may say, Covid19 pandemic crippled the world, so how can it be possible to carry out normal industry activity? So, no one should be blamed for this set back. In my view, Covid 19, is definitely a reason for it, but not the principal reason, other many policy and investment related issues are playing the major role. 2017 was the year of transition for the wind energy in India, when the industry was moving from tax credit driven investment to the reverse bidding process by the Independent Power Producers (IPPs).
Over the years, India has become a major manufacturing base for wind turbines for the world, as well as for domestic market. Suzlon Energy was the first home grown player to go out of the country border and supplied turbines to EU, America and Australia (I still feel proud to be an active partner of that journey). At present there are 20 approved turbine manufacturers are listed in India with 53 models. Biggest model available is 3MW.Indian turbines are low cost in comparison to EU and USA and maintains the international quality standards.Therefore from supply end there will be no dearth of capability.
Now, it looks like that, at all levels (i.e., turbine manufacturers, IPPs, Government and investors) discussion is going on to put Indian wind energy on the track once again and better late than never, 2021 onwards we can be hopeful to see a forward movement in this sector.
A recent study shows that in a best case scenario India could achieve 54.2 GW by the end of 2022, provided some hurdles are smoothen on war foot basis. To achieve that, India have to install additional around 13GW by that time period without losing any more time. Though Government has called up auction for more than 17GW since 2017, but 1/3 of this is either remained unsubscribed or got cancelled after allocation. Approximately 12GW awarded so far are also running delayed by 6 to 12 months. Again out of this 12 GW, approx.1.5GW is running a risk of cancellation or have already been cancelled for various reasons. So, the capacity addition scenario is highly un-certain.
There are number of issues at this moment to achieve this best case scenario. Grid capacity is not adequate and the action to increase the grid capacity isn’t fast enough from the government side. Availability of low cost revenue land for setting up projects is another problem. Private lands are highly expensive and doesn’t justify the cost of the project. One more issue is availability of investments for site infrastructure development.
I had attended a webinar conducted by IWTMA on 28th of October ’20 to learn that Mr. Tulsi Tanti was highlighting about those issues. He was explaining about the problems presently being faced by the industry and mentioned about the grey area of site development. Equipment manufacturers are investing in turbine manufacturing ,IPPs are investing in setting up the turbines and running it, but it isn’t clear that who has to invest to develop the infrastructures like roads etc in a big wind park. This investment isn’t small and needed a good amount of money at this moment, in terms of thousands of crores. Mr. Balram Mehta, COO of ReNew Power, was hopeful that IPPs may take up this responsibility for the time being. So, we can wait to see a solution at least in this one front. The lowest case scenario is India can add 10.2 GW by 2022, therefore, can achieve up to 48.3 GW.Even with this situation, the expectation up to 2030 is not diminishing. As on March 2020, total installed capacity of Indian power grid (including all type of energies) was 370GW, out of which 23% was coming from renewable energy. Wind energy alone was contributing 10%. Target has been set to increase it more than 17% by 2030.
Given to the size of the population and growth aspiration, electricity consumption demand in India is growing very fast and probably the fastest growing in the world. This demand is expected to get doubled by 2030, there is a plan of massive increase in the installed capacity of the grid from 370GW to 460GW by 2030. It is also targeted that, within this 460 GW,140 GW will be from wind only. Therefore, there is a clear room to add 10GW wind power every year (on an average) from 2021 onwards.
India along with China has the potential to lead global on shore wind power production. One estimation says that by 2050 ,India will have more than 300GW of wind power installations. Latest study by ‘National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE)’ also flagging a green signal, confirming the available wind energy potential of India is 302GW at 100meter Hub height. So, moving ahead towards 300GW shouldn’t be a problem for India provided a coordinated joint effort is made to resolve all hindering issues.