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Renewable Resources: India’s New Offshore Winds Begin To Blow

By Author: Nikhil Mehra
Total Articles: 33

The new National Offshore Wind Energy Policy approved by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Union Cabinet, recently designates the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) as the nodal ministry for use of offshore areas within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Further, it also puts the National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) in charge of offshore wind energy development in the country, authorizing it to allocate offshore wind energy blocks and to coordinate functions with related ministries and agencies.

India, which already has 23 GW of onshore wind power capacity, has a coastline of more than 7,600 kilometers (km) and has been thought to have enormous wind energy potential offshore. India is already among the world's top producers of electricity from windmills on land, with a capacity of more than 23,000 mw, but extending the success to offshore regions has not made much progress so far.

The approval has now paved the way for offshore wind renewable energy projects, including setting up of offshore wind power projects and research and development activities, in waters, in or adjacent to the country, up to the seaward distance of 200 nautical miles (exclusive economic zone or EEZ of the country) from the base line.

With the introduction of the National Offshore Wind Energy Policy, the government is attempting to replicate the success of the onshore wind power development in the offshore wind power development. The policy will provide a level playing field to all investors and beneficiaries, domestic and international.

According to government sources, the new policy would help achieve the country's ambitious targets for renewable energy and accelerate the development of wind energy. The government aims to add 1 lakh mw of solar energy capacity and 60,000 mw of wind energy by 2022.

The new policy is expected to open a world of opportunity for leading domestic players in the offshore wind segment. One of the key advantages of off-shore wind energy is that large sized projects of 1,000 MW and above, can be built with the capacity utilization factor ranging from 45-50%.

This is expected to enable better utilization of transmission infrastructure and better dispatchability, with minimal impact on land requirements given the country’s long coastline. The policy is also likely to simplify and create a single window system for relevant approvals from various central government departments and state maritime boards in the process.

To increase energy security and diversify supply reliance beyond coal, hydro, nuclear, and natural gas, India has voiced its intentions to expand its renewable power capacity to 175 GW by 2022, including 100 GW of solar, 60 GW of wind power, 10 GW of biomass, and 5 GW of small hydropower. 

India´s wind energy sector is also set to attract US$15 billion investment by 2020, states a report by ratings and research firm CRISIL. The agency expects India to add 4 GW wind energy capacity every year over the next 5 years, translating into a total investment of over US$15 billion. The country’s current installed renewable capacity stands at approximately 34 GW.

The National Offshore Wind Energy policy is a step forward in Indian renewable energy development efforts and will hasten the development of wind energy in India.

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