India making strides in wind energy

Friday, 24 December 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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VANKUSAWADE: By September 2005, India will have one of the largest wind farms in the world at Sankaneri in Tamil Nadu, rivalling Asia's biggest wind park on this mountain plateau around 160 km from Pune.

It is an awe-inspiring sight to see 900 wind turbines spread across the 25-km barren Sahyadri range of hills at an altitude of 1,150 metres from mean sea level on this Ratnagiri-Satara plateau.

Mounted on tubular or lattice design towers, some taller than a 14-storey building, the amount of power generated by each turbine varies with the speed of the wind, design of rotor blades and the turbines.

Some of the newer models designed and indigenously manufactured by Pune-based Suzlon Energy Ltd., which has set up 566 of the 900 turbines here, are capable of generating 1.25 MW power with their ability to pitch and catch wind in varying directions, while the average medium size machines generate 350 kilowatts.

Set up in 1998-99, the wind park here also has turbines of other companies like Enercon, Vestas-RRB and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL). Together all the 900 wind turbines that look like windmills, contribute 200 MW electricity to the state grid.

At the new 4,000 hectares Sankaneri wind farm in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, Suzlon has installed its new 2MW turbines, the largest on-land turbine outside Europe.

"We have already set up capacity to generate 250 MW and plan to complete erection of the remaining wind turbines to generate 500 MW by September 2005. On completion, the Sankaneri wind farm will be one of the largest in the world," said Tulsi Tanti, chairman and managing director of Suzlon.

"We are targeting addition of around 1,000 to 1,500 MW generation capacity annually through this environment friendly source," Tanti told a group of visiting journalists.

Suzlon's maintenance subsidiary currently manages the operations at Vankusawade wind farm for around 130 industrial investors like Bajaj Auto, Tata Finance, Nishkalp, Ajanta Clock among others.

The wind park is not only providing environment friendly energy but has also considerably improved the lifestyle of people in the 40 odd villages in the vicinity that have not only been electrified but now have motorable roads and employment opportunities.

This year India has witnessed one of the highest growths in capacity addition with 900 MW being added from January to take the total capacity in the country to 3,000 MW.

"The Indian wind energy sector has emerged as one of the fastest growing alternative energy options making India the fifth largest producer of wind energy in the world," said Ajay Mathur, a member of the Governing Council of the The Indian Wind Energy Association (InWEA).

Formerly with the World Bank, Mathur sees a good potential of wind energy emerging as a technologically advanced and economically viable source of electricity on a large scale, thus "reducing dependence on hydrocarbon sources for power generation."

The InWEA expects the total capacity to reach over 3,200 MW by fiscal year end in March. Of the new capacity created this year, Suzlon has contributed 200 MW, taking its total installations to over 620 MW.

Rated among the world's top 10 wind turbine manufacturers, Suzlon has research and development subsidiaries in Germany and Holland and manufacturing plants in India.

Leveraging both the domestic and international market, particularly the US, China and Australia, Suzlon has so far supplied 24 turbines of 950 kilowatt each, totalling 22.80 MW capacity, to customers in Minnesota, Massachusetts.

"We are expecting a turnover of 20 billion during 2004-05 fiscal," said Tanti, revealing that the company would be coming out with a public offering in two years time to fund plans for accelerated capacity addition.

Source: IANS
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