The country is facing acute power shortage. The power deficit has touched an all time high during summer 2008. The peaking shortage was 13% with an energy shortage of 9%.. During the 10th plan period, the generation capacity addition was just 21,180 MW, a mere 51% of the original target of 41,110 MW. For the 11th plan period the government has set another ambitious target of 78,577 MW but the progress during the first year of the plan (2007-08) was only 9,263 MW which was around 57% only of the target of 16,335 MW.
Steep increase in liquid fuel cost, failure of rain and acute shortage of coal have made the situation worse during the current year. 1 This calls of opportunities of huge investments in power generation.
Economic Growth and Increased Demand for Power
The economic and industrial growth on the other hand is on an increasing trend in the country. The union budge 2008 which projected an economic growth of 10% acknowledged the need for an unprecedented growth in power sector also. It is estimated that a 15% growth is needed in power generation capacity annually.
The budget has also provided Rs. 5500 crores for development of electrical network in rural areas through the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vydyutheekaran Yojana (RGGVY) and Rs. 800 crores for improvement if the network in Urban areas through the Accelerated Power Reforms and Development Programme (APDRP). Thus, in view of the guaranteed growth in demand along with the growth in electrical network to handle the load growth, electricity generation opens up a fertile field for private investments. The budget has also provided a number of soaps for encouragement of private investment in power sector.
Probably electricity generation is the only industry for which a specified ROI of 14% is guaranteed by the law. Ultra Mega Power Projects of 4000 MW costing Rs. 32000 crores for each project and mega power project of 1000 MW costing Rs. 8000 crores each are major opportunities for the larger investments in the field. Investments in non-conventional energy field are, on the other hand, viable areas for smaller players. The Scenario in Kerala Kerala expects a bigger growth in economy and consequently power in the years to come.
While moving from the first half to the second half of this decade the peak load growth has risen from 2. l2% to 6. 5%. The power shortage during 2008-09 summers has been estimated to be around 400 MW. Fresh efforts by KSEB to identify the growing needs through a new initiative, interactive planning workshops conducted district wise also endorsed this3. The failure of rain and shortage of power from central stations have worsened the scenario. Power cut, load restrictions etc have already been implemented. However, no major generation capacity addition has taken place during the decade.
KSEB efforts to enhance generation capacity may not be able to yield good results soon because the projects have larger gestation period. The major step of the 1000 mW coal based station to be set up in Baitarni in Orissa will also take at least four years to materialize. The recently announced 2500 mW thermal plant in Palakkad also will take more time. Thus smaller projects and non-conventional energy projects are fairly marketable and viable options for immediate investment by smaller operators Wind power – an attractive option
The sole source of energy for the Earth is the sun. 3 percent of solar energy received is converted into wind energy, which if tappable would be more than sufficient to meet the worldwide energy demand. It is no wonder that wind power has emerged as a major non-conventional option for power. In the national level the Centre for Wind Energy Technology (CWET) initially estimated the total potential for wind power to be around 45000 MW. But now with the advancement of technology it is claimed to be at about 65000 MW by the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association (IWTMA).
According to a recent study by the planning commission, places having an annual mean wind power density of more than 150 watts per square meter have been found suitable for wind power projects. The national growth in wind power capacity has been impressive in the last year. The county could achieve surpassing of the earlier target of achieving a capacity of 5000 MW in the eleventh plan period. India is currently ranked fourth in the world in wind power capacity.
Potential in Kerala
The study by Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES) has presented wind energy status as a viable area for the small-scale investors.
Agency for Non-conventional Energy and Rural Technology (ANERT), the State Nodal Agency for the development of non-conventional energy has conducted extensive wind power potential studies in the State with the help of the Ministry of Non Conventional Energy Sources (MNES). The technical wind potential available in the State is assessed as 600 MW. Ramakkalmedu in Idukki District with an estimated potential of about 80 MW is identified as the most potential site in the State and one of the best sites available in India for developing wind power.
This station has an Annual Mean Wind Power Density of 534W/m2 which is the second highest value in the country. The balance potential is spread over different areas of the state including another potential site at Agali in Palakkad district. Power evacuation facilities have not grown to all the areas. The innovations in technology bring more areas with lesser wind velocity into the picture so that this potential is to grow further in the coming years. Identifying location Identifying suitable location is one of the difficult steps in setting up a wind generator.
Tamilnadu which have succeeded much in wind development has the advantage of potential wind power sites of level terrain. But in Kerala most of the sites are remote, in forest areas and in difficult terrains. Extensive studies have been made by Government agencies and the results have been made available to the public through ANERT. Data like availability of wind during different periods of the year, wind speed and quantity of Electricity that can be generated, are readily available.
ANERT and the planning wing of KSEB will give the necessary guidance. Before deciding on the location other factors to be considered are type, cost and ownership of land (Government or private), terrain, availability of roads, availability of electrical network for power evacuation, soil conditions, environmental considerations and public acceptance. Most of the sites in Kerala require new roads to be constructed. The government has to come with more helping hands to accelerate the wind energy growth in the state.
Setting up the Plant
The procedure and formalities for setting up wind generators have been much simplified. The Kerala Government has issued detailed guidelines for development of wind power in Kerala by private developers6. The procedure involves approval from the Government and Kerala and State Electricity Regulatory Commission (KSERC). The power generated can either be consumed by the developer in his own establishments (known as Captive Generation) or be sold to anybody including KSEB as per his choice. The rate for power sale presently approved by KSERC is Rs 3. 4 per kWh. The actual availability of power depends highly on the technology and the mast height. The technology is improving day by day. Increase in mast height increases the power generation but transportation of equipment to the site become more difficult. Many agencies who take up the project on turn key basis operate in the country. Construction of roads, transportation, erecting and commissioning, complying with the formalities, operation and maintenance of the plant etc would be done by these agencies.
Wind power economics
The main factors governing wind power economics are investment costs, operation and maintenance costs, average wind speed, turbine life and of course the discount rate which reflects the cost of capital. Wind power obviously has negligible fuel costs, even if the cost of using conventional fuel for back up generation is included. Like hydro and nuclear power wind power is a capital intensive technology with about 75 per cent of total cost required upfront as capital.
The turbine accounts for about 80 percent of capital cost the remaining 20 percent is accounted for three main items, foundation, electrical installation and grid connection. The other investment costs are related to land acquisition, road construction, consultancy and financing. The key factors affecting the cost of electricity generated from the wind are wind speed, choice of wind turbine type, size of the wind farm and duration of capital repayment. A recent development in wind power area is drastic reduction in plant costs.
According to the European Wind Energy Association, the investment costs have decreased by about 30 percent over the period 1989-20017. The investment as approved by the Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission (KSERC) is Rs. 5. 4 Crores per mW The Union Government has announced so many sops to encourage wind power . A very high depreciation of 80 percent is allowed in the first year itself and the balance in the second year. Other financial incentives are relief in customs duty for import of equipment, excise duty and sales tax exemptions, availability of soft loans from Government financial nstitutions, technical support facilities from Government agencies like CWET. With these incentives from the Government, and very small gestation period of around 3 months the wind station looks much attractive for prospective investors. Growth in the State Though late to start Kerala is in the course of making good progress in wind power. The first private wind generator was connected to the Kerala power grid in 2008 March and so far 32 units has been commissioned. 8 Major initiatives of 100 mW each are being taken up by M/s Westas, by M/s Suzlon and by the BPCL.
Growing environmental concerns have given a new momentum to wind power initiatives. Enactments to encourage wind energy are coming up in many countries. The clean development mechanism and the Kyoto Protocol ensure financial returns for its contribution to reduction in carbon emission. In India also many states and regulatory commissions have already given orders to compel certain percentages of wind or other non conventional energy sources. In Kerala the State Regulatory Commission has ordered that 5 percent of energy purchased by utilities shall be from non conventional power sources.
Kerala is all set for rapid devilment of wind power. The initial procedure hurdles have been removed and the investors have started earning very attractive returns. The technocrats have however raised concern over the in firm nature of wind power and the impact it can make in the stability of power system when wind power capacity grows to a considerable portion of the total power capacity. But hoping that technical solutions will be available soon we can expect large investment to this area soon.