Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Power Generating Mushrooms of South India


“It is just like a plantation of mushrooms generating energy everywhere!! Amazing to see the ability of local entrepreneurs to repair and maintain the wind turbines of different capacities in Tamilnadu State of India”

Those were the words from Mr. Matthew Matimbwi, the Renewable Energy Engineer from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He was making his programme evaluation remarks during our third phase of the International Training on Wind Power Development and Use in India conducted by the LIFE Academy, Sweden. Earlier we were brought to the Muppandal Wind Farm site in Kanyakumari District of Tamilnadu State for study visits; thanks to Bo Gillgren and Tommy Mansson from LIFE Academy for giving us the opportunity to explore as a team of professionals from different parts of the world.

Mathew’s view was very much right; It is just like a huge plantation of Wind Turbine Mushrooms generating tremendous amount of energy. “Muppandal Wind Farm” in Kanyakumari District of Tamilnadu is the largest Wind Farms in Asia. According to Dr. Joshua Earnest, the installation of Muppandal is next only to the cluster of Wind Turbines installed at the Altamont pass in California. Dr. Joshua, who was our chief faculty during the training, is currently the Professor & Head of the Department of Electrical & Electronics Engineering, National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training and Research, Bhopal, India.

Muppandal Wind Country

The book titled “Wind Power Plants and Project Development”, jointly authored by Dr. Joshua Earnest and Tore Wizelinius, describes Muppandal Wind Farm as the “Muppandal Wind Country”. Excerpts from the book:

“Muppandal is the key places which go down into the annals of wind power history not only India, but also the world. This is one of the windiest parts of India. The steady flow of wind to these Wind Power Plants is made possible because the Muppandal Wind Farm is situated on a mountain pass in Western Ghats, through which wind is canalised throughout the year. The average wind velocity in this area is about 12 m/s, which is extremely good for wind power generation. The first Wind Farm with 10 Wind Turbine of 55 kW each was installed at Mullakkadu in 1986 and the first private sector Wind Farm was set up in 1990 with two wind turbines of 250 kW each at Muppandal. And more and more wind power have been installed during the years. This is next only to the cluster of Wind Power Plants installed at California in the U.S.A. Today Muppandal is a permanent large exhibition ground spanning several square kilometres, attracting not only the wind farm developers, but also tourists, researchers and everyone interested in seeing different types of wind turbines at a single location"
Present status of Wind Generation in Tamilnadu
According to the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA), the nodal agency for the promoting renewable energy sector, the State has 5,055 MW of wind generation capacity now with private investors accounting for about 5,038 MW. About 17 MW is with the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board and TEDA.

During the current year, Government estimates indicate that over 645 MW of wind turbines will be added.

In addition, the State is a hub of wind turbine manufacturers with most of the leading global players setting up manufacturing facilities.

They are Suzlon, Vestas, Gamesa, Enercon, RRB Energy, Shriram Leitner, Regen Power … and a bunch of local players many of them based in the engineering hub of Coimbatore which churn out small aero generators of kilowatt capacity.

Together there is a wind turbine manufacturing capability covering a range from 25 KW to 2 MW, say the officials. At current levels of capacity, the industry has actually fully exploited the levels of wind power capacity that had been initially estimated. The potential assessed was then 5,374 MW, they say. But over the years developments in technology, larger size and more efficient turbines have contributed to increasing the potential in this sector which is now grown multi-fold.

Apart from the Government support through the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the supportive approach of the State Government and the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board in offering an attractive tariff of Rs 3.39 a unit, and facilities for banking and wheeling and scaling up evacuation infrastructure have helped catalyse investments in this sector. The TNEB is in the process of setting up five 400 kv substations and three 230 KV substations that would address the bottlenecks in evacuation of wind power, says officials.

Background of the Wind Power Development in Tamilnadu

Wind has considerable potential as a global clean energy source being both widely available, though diffuse, and producing no pollution during power generation, Tamil Nadu is endowed with three lengthy mountain ranges on the Western side with potential of 1650 MW in palghat pass in Coimbatore District, 1300 MW in Shengottai pass in Tirunelveli District and 2100 MW in Arelvaymozhi pass in Kanniyakumari District and 450 MW in other areas totalling 5500 MW. We must see that the total achievement in India is 12009 MW.

There are 41 Wind potential sites in 8 Districts in the State, declared by MNRE, as suitable for Wind Power projects based on the Wind assessment studies carried out by TEDA with the funding assistance of MNRE and the State Government. Wind farms have so far been set up in 26 sites of the above, almost entirely by the private sector, except for 19 MW of Demonstration Wind farms in 8 locations set up during 1986 to 1993, jointly by TEDA and TNEB, but now run and maintained by TNEB.

A package of incentives which includes fiscal concessions, custom duty, excise duty exemption and 10 year tax holiday are available for Wind Power projects from Govt. of India. Intra State open access regulations have been notified and preferential tariff orders issued for Wind Power Projects in Tamil Nadu by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC). As per the revised tariff orders issued in May 2006, the rate is Rs.2.75 per unit for the projects for which agreements had already been signed and Rs.2.90 per unit where the agreements are to be signed. The wheeling and banking charges remain unchanged at 5% each.
This amazing success story is a very good case study for all entreprenuers in the world who would like to invest in wind power. It is the result of the hard work of thousand of engineers, technicians, policy makers, project managers and above all the political will of the Government and its people.

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