India is growing at a rapid pace. Energy is key to achieving India’s development goals, supporting a rapidly developing economy, bringing electricity to those who remain without it, and developing the infrastructure to meet the needs of what is soon expected to be the world’s most populous country.
Despite its challenges, India is steadily implementing its climate change commitments under the Paris Agreement (COP21). To achieve the target, India has set several goals to increase its use of renewable energy and utilize more efficient technologies.
India’s well-developed wind power industry is capable and experienced in meeting the country’s energy security and climate change goals. In March 2021, India’s total wind installations crossed the 39.25 GW mark, making it the world’s fourth largest wind market.
The Early Years Of Wind Power in India
Indian wind power development began in 1952 when ManeklalSankalchand Thacker, a distinguished power engineer, started a collaborative project with the Indian Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to explore wind power’s potential.
The CSIR established a Wind Power Sub-Committee under P Nilakantan, which was designated to analyze the available resources that could be practically utilized, along with exploring the economic prospects of wind energy.
In the ’70s & the ’80s
After the National Aeronautical Laboratory developed a multi-vane wind turbine in the 1960s, governments started focusing on wind energy projects. It went a step further and developed sail-type wind turbines in 1976–77.
It was in the 1980s that the Indian wind energy program was launched. Initially, countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark contributed substantially to the development of Indian wind technology.
In this regard, however, Danish aid has been phenomenal and has proven most valuable to the development of wind energy in India. In 1983-84, a wind energy programme was launched by conducting resource reviews, establishing demonstration projects, and proposing incentives. At Veraval, Gujarat, a 40 KW wind turbine was installed with Dutch assistance as one of the first-ever wind plants. Due to excessive wear, the turbine failed.
At Mandvi, Gujarat, another attempt was made with Danish wind turbines Micon and DWT imported from Denmark. The wind energy program was launched as a result of the successful implementation of this system. A wind farm with 10 WTGS of 55 kW capacity was installed by local manufacturer Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited in Mullakkadu, Tamil Nadu, within the same time frame.
RISO arranged for the delivery of hardware from Denmark for two more installations as part of the Renewable Energy Assistance initiative with the Government of India. A 4 MW wind farm was built in Muppandal, Tamil Nadu, and a 10 MW wind farm was built in Lamba, Gujarat. Danida and RISO helped set up meetings between the Danish and potential Indian manufacturers, staff training, etc.
The constant growth of Wind power in the ’90s
Another wind farm was inaugurated in Kayathar in 1990 with Danish aid. The growth of India’s economy has led to a considerable increase in energy demand after 1991. With the rapid development of the economy in conjunction with a growing population, this demand will only continue to rise.
In 1998 Danida funded RISO Lab’s collaboration in India’s development of wind technological infrastructure, which resulted in the construction of Chennai’s Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET) and India’s first-ever wind turbine test station.
There is a great deal of investment in wind energy owing to its short gestation period, lower investment requirements, and better commercial viability than other renewable energy technologies. Consequently, wind energy accounts for 67% of India’s total renewable energy installations. The wind energy industry has multiplied in recent years.
Wind Energy Achievements in the 21st century
The electricity act in 2003 proved to be instrumental for the power sector in India on the whole. This act was a catalyst that led to several supportive measures to aid the growth of the wind power sector with some excellent capacity additions of wind power in the 10th and 11th plan periods. For instance, the wind generation target set for the 10th plan (2002-2007) was 1500 MW, whereas the factual culmination was 5427 MW. Similarly, for the 11th plan 2007-2012, the targeted wind generation was 9000 MW while the accomplished figure was 10,260MW.
The growth of the wind sector has produced a robust ecology, project operating skills, and an industrial base of roughly 10,000 MW annually. As of the end of March 2022, the nation has the fourth-highest installed wind capacity in the world, totaling 40.13 GW.
Growth in the installed capacity of wind energy shows that investors are positively participating in the Indian wind energy programme. Wind energy has become more of a business proposition for investors and contributes to the development of the economy as well. Wind energy positively affects a country’s economy by providing threefold returns, i.e., economic, social, and environmental. However, the high cost of generating power from wind is a cause of concern.
Like other renewable energy technologies, the high upfront cost of wind power is a barrier to their uptake, even though there is no fuel price risk after its installation.
Hence, it is vital to create new, technically advanced, state-of-the-art wind turbines that are cost-effective and reduce the per unit cost of wind power. The Indian government needs to increase investment in the R&D of wind turbines and wind resources assessment programmes.
With a superior wind resource assessment, the efficiency of a wind farm can be increased, which can subsequently reduce the per unit cost of generation. India’s global position in wind energy production can improve since nature has blessed it with abundant wind energy resources. The Indian government has laid the basis of a comprehensive renewable energy programme that can meet this growing energy demand by increasing the country’s energy capacity.