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Indian offshore wind "open playing field"

Written by  Tuesday, 24 May 2016 04:01

While Europe has been leading the charge in offshore wind development, the US and other regions including India are starting to build activity. 

In India, there are two main regions, the states of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, on the west coast of India, which are most likely to see activity, Dr Mark Leybourne, senior engineer at IT Power Consulting to the All Energy conference and exhibition in Glasgow in May. 

A consortium, led by the Global Wind Energy Council, called Facilitating Offshore Wind in India, or Fowind, has been running a project over a couple of years to assess these areas, with involvement from Norway’s DNV GL. 

However, one of the big areas of uncertainty is offshore wind speeds in these areas, Leybourne says. A lidar, a type of survey technology, was supposed to be put in offshore Gujarat in the summer but now likely October due to the monsoon season. 

Estimates put Gujarat’s offshore wind speed at about 7m/sec, admits Leybourne. A series of zones have been set out and a process of zonal consenting has been started, he says. Zone A, an area covering 1700sq km off Pipavav Port, is likely to be like first pilot project in coming years. There are established ports and existing offshore oil and gas capability, says Leybourne. 

“The first project is likely to be around 300MW,” he says, showing the scale of the ambition. “We have been working with the government on the supply chain and how to roll it out.”

Tamil Nadu, meanwhile, has higher wind resources. Measurements have shown 8-9m/sec. But, the waters are a lot deeper and there is a lack of grid and port facilities, says Leybourne. “The local government is also a little less forth coming towards offshore wind and spending money,” says Leybourne. Nevertheless, a Lidar is also due to be positioned offshore at the end of this year or later next.

Charles Yates, managing director, CmY Consultants, says the attraction of these areas are that it’s an open playing field for international players. For their first projects, the states are keen to get established technologies, so the barriers to entry are low, he says. Offshore wind, in fact, could see a 26% compound annual growth rate, between 2016 and 2025, he says. 

“In 2-3 years’ time there will be open international tenders for two projects in Gujurat and Tamil Nadu where the government wants established players, with financing and technology expertise, to get involved,” he told All Energy. “There aren’t barriers to import kit, transformers etc. The key thing is for the first projects to work.”

You might ask “Why the focus on offshore wind,” when sunshine is plentiful in India, says Yates. “Economics,” he says. “Offshore wind is important and will help achieve their [carbon reduction] targets, and generating local jobs, taxes and a supply chain, which is already engaged in oil and gas industry.” 

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