Wind power farm
The old turbines have lower hub heights of 30–60m, whereas latest turbines have hub heights of 120–140 m. Turbines with a lower hub height cannot harness the wind available at higher hub heights, which makes them comparatively inefficient

Climate change buoys TN’s wind power, but state yet to fully tap it

State has highest wind power installation at 9.6 GW, but many of the turbines are over 15 years old, approaching the end of their lives, and can be replaced with larger, more efficient wind turbines

On July 9, Tamil Nadu consumed 316 million units of electricity, of which 120.25 million units were wind generated. So far this month, the 100 million units-wind energy mark has been achieved six times.

In the last two weeks, the state had absorbed more than 935 million units of wind power, according to Rajesh Lakhani, chairman of Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (Tangedco), the state utility for power generation, transmission and distribution. This is an all-time high for a state that faces high power demand during summers and could be even the highest such consumption by a state in India, he said.

“No state would have generated and absorbed so much wind power in a day” he had tweeted earlier.

Also read: Wind power caters to a third of Tamil Nadu’s electricity supply

As per the state energy department’s policy note for 2022-23, Tamil Nadu has the highest installed capacity of renewable energy in the country. As on April 1, 2022, it had an installed capacity of 8,615.22 MW of wind power and 5,303.50 MW of solar.

Wind power alone generates about one-third of Tamil Nadu’s power. “The state’s wind capacity accounts for 25 per cent of the nation’s wind power capacity,” said the policy note.

Meteorology institute study

Speaking to The Federal, one of the authors Parthasarathi Mukhopadhyay said that their projection is for the next 55 years.

“We have used climate models from across the globe like the US, Australia, German, Canada, etc. But no model in the world is perfect. So there may be uncertainties. But we have used three types of unsampled models, meaning we have taken the mean of many models so that the uncertainty is reduced” he said.

While in some pockets of Tamil Nadu and Andhra the wind speed will be high, the study shows it is in decrease trend in Northern parts of the country, Mukhopadhyay added.

While climate change has brought about negative impacts in several parts of the world, with extreme and concentrated weather events, it has also brought about certain positive effects in some parts of the globe. South India is one of the regions which are likely to benefit from the climate change impact, especially with regard to wind.

A study by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, published on June 10, 2022, revealed that, in future, seasonal and annual wind speeds are likely to decrease over North India and increase along South India.

Also read: Tangedco’s wind power evacuation and use touch a new record

The study used various climate models such as Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX), Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) and phase 6 (CMIP6) to derive future climatic projections over various parts of the country. The data were analysed using spatial analysis over entire India and location analysis of select energy farms from different parts of the country.

“The southern coast of Odisha and the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu show promising potential for wind energy in the climate change scenario. The seasonal analysis indicates that the southern and northwestern regions of the country will have higher wind speed in the winter and monsoon months when the wind potential is maximum,” said the study titled ‘Analysis of future wind and solar potential over India using climate models’ by TS Anandh, Deepak Gopalakrishnan and Parthasarathi Mukhopadhyay, all from IITM.

Experts suggest that based on this study it is necessary to install more efficient networks of wind farms to increase renewable energy production.

‘TN needs to revive wind power projects’

Noting that Tamil Nadu has been a pioneer in development of wind power projects in India, Martin Scherfler, a renewable energy expert, told The Federal that there are, however, challenges that the industry is facing.

In fact, the first pilot projects in wind power generation started here, in the late 1980s and early 1990s and the Centre also set up its technical advisory body Centre for Wind Energy Technology (now National Institute of Wind Energy) in Chennai, he said.

Scherfler, co-founder, Auroville Consulting, said: “The state has the highest wind power installation at 9.6 GW as per the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). However, many of these turbines are 15 years or older, approaching the end of their lives, and can be replaced with larger, more efficient wind turbines.”

As such, Tamil Nadu has an immediate repowering potential of more than 900 MW.

Also read: Dhanushkodi, TN to get offshore wind power facility, first of its kind in Asia-Pacific

“A repowering policy was introduced by MNRE in 2015 but no significant repowering projects have taken place so far. The general consensus in the industry is that this is primarily on account of the lack of consideration of incentives for augmentation of the transmission infrastructure, divergent views of states on how repowering should be implemented and general reluctance of owners of old turbines to make substantial investments in a market where tariffs continue to fall,” he added.

Talking about offshore wind projects, Scherfler said that though the MNRE released an offshore wind energy policy in 2015, and had set a target of 5 GW of offshore wind installations by 2022 and 30 GW by 2030, the country has not begun any offshore wind projects.

“The Tamil Nadu government could accelerate the development by providing adequate power evacuation infrastructure, by setting up of a dedicated port for offshore wind industry and by including offshore within the renewable energy purchase obligations,” he added.

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