Only second to nuclear energy, wind power has become the largest source of renewable energy in the world because it is a clean, sustainable and cost-effective fuel source. In the rapidly changing, fast-growing market of wind power, the Indian wind energy industry recorded a boom of 5.4 GW in 2017, but the first quarter of this year witnessed installations of only about 250 Megawatt. Looking at these figures and the current market scenario, we expect the number to go up by 1 GW – 1.2 GW by the end of 2018.
The reason for this drastic decline is the change in the way by which Wind-power tariffs are determined in India. Earlier, a pre-determined Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) signed by the electricity regulatory authorities of India served as a fixed feed-in tariff. This guaranteed long-term payments at a pre-determined price, but the government has now allowed conducting auctions for this purpose. The new process to determine wind-power tariffs in India, have adversely affected the industry in several ways.
The idea behind having this new system was to let the market determine the prices rather than the government and to encourage the trading of wind power between states. There are no transmission charges for the Renewable Energy Projects so that the electricity flows from the windiest states in the south to areas where there is acute demand for power. In a bid to discover the right price for the sale of wind-generated power state-wise, competitive auctions for wind projects were introduced.
Seven states in India have all the wind capacity; they are to the south and west of New Delhi, Namely - Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. These states could channel their power northwards to non-windy states which are land-locked and hence the grid would be balanced. This would free these states from the obligation of using all the wind energy that is being produced in their state.
Wind power is still the most cost-effective option for increasing the power capacity in India. Power from Fossil fuels was more expensive than unsubsidized renewable power in 2016, in 30 countries. This number will increase to include most countries around the world by 2025.
A significant barrier to the growth of Wind Power is the existence of Fossil fuel plants that generate pollution. These old plants continue to fulfill the demand for power at the expense of the environment, once they are replaced by greener alternatives, we would witness massive health, environmental and economic benefits. It is very important that the renewable energy industry thrives and effectively makes our lives more sustainable.
Big companies like Castrol have taken initiatives to complement the growth of the wind power industry by introducing specially engineered lubricants for wind turbines and providing guidelines for their maintenance. Castrol also works closely with leading wind power industries as well as service providers to maximize the efficiency from wind turbines. The online giant Google recently became the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy. The company signed contracts with three wind power plants which brought them to a production capacity of 3 GW, which is enough to power their whole company. Additionally, the Ministry of Power has recommended that zero-rate tax status or a deemed export status should be provided to renewable energy under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to maintain the growth and competitiveness of the sector.
All factors considered, we can confidently say that there will be a renewable energy revolution over the next decade. As the government, companies and consumers continue to make active efforts in promoting green energy, the short-term stagnation will soon be overcome.