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Renew | August 2016

Improvement in generation revolutionises industry & rationalises tariff structures

Kailash Tarachandani | Chief Executive Officer, Inox Wind Ltd.
What advancements in turbines are driving the Indian market?

The growth in the wind sector has been aided by tremendous improvement in wind turbine technology with a select few turbine manufacturers offering the latest 2 MW Wind Turbine Generator (WTG) platform. The improved platform comes with larger rotor diameter blades and higher hub heights offering superior generation and thus drastically reducing the cost of energy. This considerable improvement in generation is revolutionising the industry and is rationalising the tariff structure in states where the wind tariff was high.

Your take on upgradation of evacuation infra for wind?
GoI is focussed on expanding the Green Energy Corridor, which is the power transmission corridor for renewable power, and has made it a top mission. The GEC project is aimed at facilitating the flow of renewable energy into the national grid ultimately intended to increase the share of renewable energy in the generating capacity of the nation. The corridor is aimed at synchronising electricity produced from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, with conventional power stations in the grid. Dedicated transmission capacity will also enable the evacuation of wind power from one state where it is surplus and its sale to a state with fewer wind resources.

How can old turbines with poor capacity be repowered?
Repowering is the process of replacing older turbines with newer ones that either have a greater nameplate capacity or more efficiency which results in a net increase in the power generated and can lead to increase in wind power capacity and generation. This would involve replacing smaller capacity turbines with the latest technology (2 MW) turbines leading to better resource utilisation. The latest technology turbines would offer much superior Plant Load Factors to the older turbines.

What are the challenges in repowering?
The major challenge is upgradation of existing evacuation facilities, since current grid facilities were designed to support present generation capacities.

Replacing smaller capacity turbines with higher capacity ones may require augmentation and upgrading the power evacuation facilities. There can potentially be issues around land ownership with multiples owners of wind farm land that may create complications. In order to compensate for the additional cost of repowering, appropriate incentives are also necessary.

What can be implications or aggressive fall in tariffs for small-sized projects (< 500MW)?
Falling wind tariffs are a boon for the sector. Tariffs are falling due to the tremendous improvement in wind turbine technology offering superior generation and thus drastically reducing the cost of energy. The considerable improvement in generation is revolutionising the industry and rationalising tariff structures in states where the wind tariff was high. Lower wind tariffs have not only made wind the cheapest source of renewable energy, but have also made it more competitive on a life cycle cost basis, compared to the traditional sources of energy like coal and gas. Unlike coal and gas, wind tariffs enjoy the advantage of zero escalation in costs over the term of the power purchase agreement making it more affordable for state electricity boards to purchase over a long term. Lower wind tariffs will eventually lead to an explosion in volumes purchased from wind and augur very well for the long term growth of the industry.

What is your view of the future of the wind sector in India, in say, the next five years?
The Government of India has set forth an ambitious plan to increase the renewable generating capacity of the nation and is laying unprecedented thrust on the development of renewable sources of energy to provide for the long term energy security of the country and to meet its commitment of providing a greener environment. Amongst the alternatives available, the wind sector is envisaged to play a leading role in achieving the government´s targets (installed wind generating capacity of 60,000 MW by 2022). With the current wind generating capacity at 26,769 MW, the journey to 60,000 MW implies a compounded annual growth rate of 15 per cent in the installed wind capacity over the next six years. To meet its objective of promoting the wind industry, the government had introduced several regulatory and supporting policies like reintroduction of accelerated depreciation benefits, reintroduction of generation based incentives, inclusion of wind power projects as Corporate Social Responsibility activity and doubling of the National Clean Energy cess. The state governments are doing their part as well by providing attractive preferential tariffs for wind power to attract investments in wind energy.

Introduction of further measures in the new tariff policy like the Renewable Generator Obligation (RGO) and waiving off inter-state transmission charges for renewable energy are expected to unleash unprecedented growth in the sector. The RGO mandates all coal-fired plants commissioned after a specific date to generate a certain percentage of their power from renewable energy sources. Inter-state transmission of wind energy at zero transmission charges further boosts the appeal of wind power as an energy source and aids the states in meeting their non-solar RPO obligations.

What wind energy projects (on-shore/off-shore) is your company working on?
With one of the largest project site inventories and one of the largest order books in the country, Inox Wind is currently executing projects across all major wind rich states including Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. We offer our clients total wind power solutions including wind resource assessment, land acquisition, site development infrastructure, power evacuation system, WTGs supply, erection and commissioning services, long term operations and maintenance services as well as post-commissioning support. All projects currently being executed are on-shore.

Kindly expand on the problems your projects will address once completed.
Inox Wind commissioned projects with a cumulative capacity of 786 MW across Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra in FY16. We plan to maintain our position as India´s fastest growing wind energy solutions provider in the country and commission significant capacities in the current year as well. The projects once commissioned will contribute to the government´s targets for renewable capacities, reduce carbon emissions, and provide direct and indirect employment in the mentioned states.

What are the challenges you are facing when developing these projects?
There are certain challenges faced while executing projects including the timing and receipt of necessary governmental authorisations, the availability of materials, components and labour that meet our standards, the ability of contractors, subcontractors and other third parties to complete their work on schedule and the quality of such parties´ work, delays associated with delivery of equipment, components and materials to wind sites and delays caused by adverse weather conditions.

Brief us on the latest technology being utilised by you to over coming challenges.
We manufacture the major components of our WTGs, including nacelles, hubs, rotor blade sets and towers, at our in-house facilities. We have a perpetual license from AMSC, a leading wind energy technology company based in Austria, to manufacture 2 MW WTGs in India based on AMSC´s proprietary technology. Our license in India is exclusive, subject to three existing licenses that AMSC had previously granted for the production and sale of 2 MW WTGs worldwide, including in India. AMSC´s state-of-the-art wind turbine designs range from offerings of 1.65 MW to 10 MW and more than 15,000 MW of installed capacity has been operating globally for multiple years based on AMSC´s designs. We also have a non-exclusive license from WINDnovation for custom-made rotor blade sets. Our Type Class III-B 2 MW WTGs have been designed and developed after due assessment of wind site qualities and conditions across low wind resource locations, such as those in India. Our WTGs are designed and developed with a view to achieving efficient power curves, improved up-times and reducing operations and maintenance costs. We currently offer our clients multiple blade and tower variants of the 2 MW turbine. Inox´s WTG are equipped with DFIG technology (based on AMSC technology) which is one of the most advanced technologies being used globally. The swept area per MW is also one of the highest which we believe makes the WTG suitable for low windy sites and climatic conditions such as those prevalent in India. Additionally, we have also entered into a collaboration with AMSC to develop a 3 MW turbine specially designed for the Indian market. The 3 MW turbine will eventually extend Inox´s product offerings in India and reinforce the company´s position as the leading wind turbine manufacturer in the country.

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