Wind Energy: a Nature’s Bonanza for Eternity
Nature has provided ample resources for lives on earth to survive and grow. The quest of survival and growth enabled human beings to find and use new and renewable sources of energy. One such source is wind, which is a clean, renewable and sustainable form of energy. Wind is free and with modern technology can be captured efficiently for generating power. It has no green house gases emissions.
Throughout history, wind energy has been harnessed in many ways. Centuries ago, wind power was used to sail ships and windmills were used to grind the grains, pump water and cut wood. Initially, in India wind power was used for irrigation and grinding purposes but later on development of wind power got a boost. Now, it is being used to provide electricity to grid along with its use for distribution generation mode.
Today, India is the fifth largest producer of wind energy globally after China, the U.S.A.,Germany and Spain with a cumulative installed capacity of over 16000 MW till the end of January 2012. The total potential for wind power in India was first estimated by the Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET), Chennai at 45 GW and has been recently increased to 49.13GW. In fact, in the twelfth five year plan the Government proposes to add 15000 MW of capacity through new wind energy projects.
Currently, wind technology is being primarily used in three ways: (i) Wind pumps, which use mechanical energy from wind mainly for water-pumping purposes (used for drinking and irrigation). (ii) Wind energy generators (WEGS’s), connected to turbines, which are used to produce electricity, to be distributed on electricity grids and are meant for rural and/or urban use. (iii) Wind-electric battery chargers which produce electricity and store it in batteries
To promote the use of wind energy in the country the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is promoting two programmes: (i) Wind Energy Programme and (ii) Small Wind Energy & Hybrid Systems Programme.
Wind Energy Programme
The programme aims at large scale commercialization of cost effective generation of grid quality wind power. Wind energy programme covers surveys and assessment of wind resource, facilitation and implementation of demonstration and private sector projects through various fiscal and promotional policies.
Wind Resource Assessment is done for deciding the potential sites. Wind energy is site specific; therefore, data needs to be collected before starting a project. A total of 627 wind monitoring stations covering 13 States and Union Territories have been established. Handbooks on ‘Wind Energy Resource Survey in India’ have been published giving details of wind data. In fact, a numerical Wind Atlas for India has been prepared and launched. It is to help the stake holders in getting better micrositing leading to higher generation from wind power projects. Micrositing is necessary for the optimization of wind farm layout and locating new turbines as per the norms specified by respective state regulatory authorities.
Demonstration Wind Power Projects are taken up to create necessary infrastructure to open up the sites for commercial deployment by demonstrating the success so that private sector gets confidence to invest. The first demonstration project in the country was set up near Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu in 1986. Subsequently, more demonstration projects have been established at different locations in the country.
The Government is supporting the Wind Power Programme through fiscal and promotional incentives. These include 80% accelerated depreciation, concession on custom duties on critical components, tax holiday on income and excise duties exemption. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy implements the scheme on Generation Based Incentive (GBI) for Wind Power Projects. Under the Scheme, an incentive of Rs 0.50 per unit of electricity fed into the grid by wind power projects is being provided over and above the tariff given by the state utilities, with an overall cap of Rs 62 lakh per MW to be availed in a period not less than four years and maximum period of 10 years. GBI scheme is available for the projects which do not claim the accelerated depreciation benefit. Loans for installing windmills are available from Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) and other Financial Institutions. An investment of around Rs. 5.5crore is made per MW installation of wind power projects.
A total capacity of around 16000 MW has been established up to January, 2012, mainly in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan. Wind electric generators of unit sizes between 225 kW and 2.5 MW have been deployed across the country.
Small Wind Energy & Hybrid Systems Programme
The aim of the programme is to develop technology and promote applications of water pumping windmills and aero-generators/wind-solar hybrid systems useful for meeting water pumping and small power requirements in rural/semi urban/urban windy areas of the country. It also undertakes research & development for improvement of designs and efficiency of these systems. The users mainly involve individuals, farmers, NGOs, Central/State Government agencies, local bodies and Panchayats, Autonomous Institutions, Research Organizations, Cooperative Societies, Corporate Bodies, Small Business Establishments, Banks, etc .
Under the scheme, financial support is provided to the beneficiaries installing the aero-generators, wind-solar hybrid systems and water pumping wind mills. India can exploit the potential of micro-generation technologies and meet the energy needs under the distributed generation mode. An aero-generator is a small wind electric generator having a capacity of upto 50 kW and is suitable for unelectrified areas having adequate wind speeds. It produces optimum power at the rated wind speed of 30 km per hour. The wind-solar hybrid system mainly consists of one or two aero generators along with SPV panels connected with battery bank to supply AC power. The power generated from both wind and solar components is stored in a battery bank for use whenever required. Water pumping wind mills pump water from wells, ponds etc. and can lift water when wind speed approaches 8-10 Km per hour. They are capable of pumping water in the range of 1000 to 8000 litres per hour.
In view of the overall objective of creating a minimum power availability to feed the engine of qualitative growth of nation, wind energy will play a pivotal role in the future energy mix.