Abstract: After four years of continuous decline, Indian wind energy is trying for a turnaround in 2021. As of now all major components required for making wind turbine are getting sourced from overseas. China being the manufacturing hub of the world, is holding a major share of these supplies. In covid- 19 era many EU/US manufacturer are opting to shift their setups from China to other Asian countries. Ripping the benefit of this sentiment, India is attracting them with favourable policies and supports.

Government’s Make in India initiative, if successful, can be proved to be a revolution in this sector. As well as a sustainable and profitable proposition for both – the country and the foreign investors.

2021 could predictably be marked as a turnaround year for the Indian wind industry. At this point of time, the Government of India has taken up the “Make in India” programme to attract foreign investors in order to make the country a manufacturing hub for the world. 

India missed the first bus during 1985 when China entered the global manufacturing arena and started boosting its ecosystem for export, eventually succeeded to become the world’s manufacturing epicentre.

In this post covid era, for India it is possibly a second chance and taking advantage of the world’s sentiment on China, it can take appropriate initiatives to attract more global manufacturing investments in this country.  

Make in Indiasentiment is now resonating all across the country in every sector. Wind Energy sector is also not away from it. The government machinery is busy in beaming a brighter picture for investments in all kind of small, medium and large-scale manufacturing sectors. 

Make in India is calling companies from all across the world to set up their manufacturing base in this country. Moving with an ambitious plan of contributing 60% of national energy requirement by renewables by 2030, the government is endeavouring to maximize Makein India strategy in the wind energy component manufacturing space. This calls for a huge shift in policy and practices.

Recently, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued a memorandum for giving preference to Make in India products in all government developed renewable energy projects. 

Make in India a boon for wind farm
An Indian Wind Farm (Image: Unsplash.com)

In the wind (and other renewables) energy sector many projects get developed by central government ministries and public sector undertakings (PSUs). Therefore, now onwards, in all such projects, preference will be given to Make in India products.

Government is targeting to have minimum 80% participation of local components in a wind turbine. Components such as gearbox, generator(motor), blade, hub & mainframe casting, Yaw & pitch bearings, yaw & pitch drive, controllers, nacelle and hub composites so on and so forth. In the area of assembly/manufacturing of the wind turbines, India already has developed a sufficient capacity.

Government is planning to put various audits and checks in the process of import procurements in order to ensure the participation of local components in wind turbines under the Make in India dictum.

While planning to control imports in one hand, on the other hand, it is necessary to build up world-class alternative supply sources for wind industry within the country very rapidly. 

In an attempt to attract world-class companies, MNRE has initiated massive actions. It has advised the state governments and port authorities to identify suitable lands for setting up wind (& renewable)  component manufacturing parks immediately to respond to this Make in India drive.

State governments (e.g., Madhya Pradesh and Odisha) and port authorities (e.g., Tuticorin Port Trust) are also found responding favourably showing their interest in this Make in India initiative.

 Over the decades, China has become the manufacturing hub of all major world-class wind turbine component makers because of its cost-competitive ecosystem. But last year the when the world got devastated by the viral pandemic, businesses came to a halt, many of those international companies started thinking to move out of China and set up their production base elsewhere.

Transhipment of windmill blades through New Mangalore Port to boost coastal cargo

To rip the benefit of this sentiment, MNRE is also holding meetings with international RE companies and representatives of various countries inviting them to participate in Make in India by the way of investing in wind & renewable energy manufacturing sector in this country.

It is visible that the Make in India initiative in the wind energy sector has been taken up very aggressively by the central government. Even Prime minister of the country is being seen active personally and interacting with global wind turbine/component manufacturing companies for strengthening their presence in India. 

Mr Tulsi Tanti, the father of Indian wind energy revolution, Chairman and Managing Director of ‘Suzlon Energy Ltd.’ and the present Chairman of IWTMA (Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association) is also urging foreign investors to respond to this Make in India initiative and get mutually benefitted from the immense growth potential of Indian wind (& renewable) energy sector.

At present, India has an infrastructure and capability to build around 10 GW capacity of wind turbines per year. As of now typically all major components and heavy castings for the MW class turbines are being sourced either from china or from the EU. 

The picture will be clear if we take a look at a typical 2MW Drive Train type wind turbine being made in India today. Sourcing of components will be as under:

Suppliers of Components (Image: Author)

So, we can see that out of 17 items 11 items are imported, again out of which 8 are from China. Now let us discuss this situation little elaborately in order to understand the underlying opportunity for Make in India in the wind energy sector.

Gearboxes for wind turbines are getting designed in the EU, but majorly get manufactured in China. European companies like Winergy have their plant there and some Chinese companies like DHHI, NGC are marketing their company brands. 

In India, in the last 20 years, no gearbox maker has developed for MW class wind turbines. One or two scattered attempts has been made earlier but without much success. A couple of EU representations are existing though, but the segment needs more expansion.

In the case of Motor (Generator) for wind turbines, the situation is a little better, some companies are already making it in the country for decades. Either in collaboration with EU or EU direct investment. Suzlon (in JV with Elin Motoren), LeroySomer and ABB are the examples. Homegrown companies (example Jyoti) also make it, but probably not preferred so far by the wind turbine manufacturers.

Heavy castings for wind turbine mainframe and hub are so far couldn’t successfully be mass-produced in India, though trials have been made a couple of times with different established Indian companies, results aren’t up to the mark in terms of timely supply (in particular). The main source till now is China. It can supply quantity with quality at a competitive price.

Forging and Casting Components (Image: Author)

Same is the situation for heavy forgings also. Forged Stock for making wind turbine main shaft, ring gears, shrink disc is not possible to get in India in mass scale. As on date, the only viable source is China.

Blades for the wind turbine are being manufactured in this country for many years. So, in this case, there is no dearth of manufacturing capacity. But moulds, which is the principal tool for blade making isn’t available indigenously. 

Till now mould is getting sourced either from China factory of EU company (eg. Gurit) or from the Chinese manufacturers. 

Very recently one Indian company (Indutch) is coming up with its in-house expertise in wind blade mould manufacturing field and have already supplied a couple of moulds in the market.

Parking brakes and Hydraulics are also sourced from the EU or China. Though there are many established companies in India in the field of industrial hydraulics, sadly none have been ventured in wind energy field till now.

Some Precision Components (Image: Author)

Wind turbine control system, microprocessors and other power electronic parts are essentially being sourced from the EU. Though the integration of the components is done in India in most of the cases, a complete supply of control system from the EU or China is also not rare.

Tower, Electrical Cables, Steel fabricated/welded items, composite Nacelle covers & Spinners for the wind turbine are regularly being manufactured in India.

 In the case of   Yaw Drive, Pitch Drive, Yaw bearing and Pitch bearing, EU manufacturers have already set up manufacturing facilities and supplying to Indian wind market regularly.

In this scenario of component supply, to attain 80% Make in India in a wind turbine won’t be an easy task. Setting up alternative manufacturing facilities to offset supplies from China needs a persistent and well-planned effort. Government and industrialists both need to join hands.

However, opportunities are there for sure. Setting up world-class manufacturing plants for wind turbine gearbox, generator, castings & forgings, Yaw and pitch bearings, hydraulic systems etc. will prove to be sustainably beneficial without any doubt.

Power Electronics and Composite Components (Image: Author)
 

It could be seen that there lies a good opportunity in all most all areas of the wind component manufacturing, either for setting up a new plant or expansion of the already existing plant in India.

As Suzlon did (SE Forge) in 2007-2008, establishing its forging plant and going into JV with ‘Elin’ of Austria for making motors(generators) in this country, more wind turbine manufacturers can think of similar backward integrations for their turbines during this Make in India drive.

self-contained wind energy sector in India
Some Component Manufacturing Factories in India (Image: Author)

A joint venture between wind turbine makers with the EU/US or indigenous suppliers could be a good business area for establishing heavy forgings and castings factories in India and deliver on a mass scale.

Gearbox manufacturing for the wind turbine is another area where investment from the foreign manufacturer (Winergy and ZF Wind Power already have their plants) can be a sustainable option. 

Many indigenous companies are making non-wind gearboxes in India for many years, they can think of entering into the wind energy field (maybe with JV) in the advent of Make in India Initiative.

Microprocessors & controllers and other power electronic components required for wind turbine will (possibly) continue to come from EU/US, however,100% integration and assembly of the control panels can be done in India. Importing ready panels from China or Europe/USA can be avoided completely.

Same way for many other small components, India can put effort to get foreign investment and establish manufacturing plants in the country. 

Brakes, Couplings and wind vane & anemometer like parts required in the wind turbine are some of the other areas for strong development opportunity. 

Blade Mould Manufacturing Plant in India (Image: Author)

I have recognized these opportunities for India, from my 22 years of experience in the Indian wind energy sector. It is probably a high time for India to take advantage of the present opportunity created due to shift of sentiment.

It is good that MNRE is also realizing that at a time when EU manufacturers are shifting their plants from China, India needs to bring forth conducive policies to attract them. Therefore, they have set up a dedicated wing “Renewable Energy Industry Facilitation and Promotion Board” to facilitate investments in Make in India.

It is learnt that the government is likely to withdraw customs duty concessions for wind-turbine components starting from April 2021 onwards in a phased manner, to encourage the use of local component and to reduce imports from China and other countries. 

On the other hand, to gain confidence from the global investors, “The Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is asking state governments to refrain from any abrupt change in policy and provide a guarantee for policy stability while entering into a memorandum of understandings (MOU) with foreign investors.

The overall picture looks promising for the future. As India will be marching ahead towards  450 GW renewable energy   generation by 2030, growth potential in the wind energy sector for the next 10 years will be very high,

Make in India initiative have the potential to channelize this demand forecast into a multidimensional growth story for the wind energy sector that can sustain for long and can cater not only to India but also to the global wind business for growth.

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This article was originally published in,

https://energycentral.com/c/cp/2021-turnaround-year-wind-make-india