In a major boost to offshore wind energy, the government has floated global bids for developing 4 GW capacity off the coast of Tamil Nadu.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued a draft tender to select Offshore Wind Power Developers (OWPD) for leasing sea-bed areas to develop 4 GW of offshore wind power projects.
The project must be commissioned within 48 months from the effective date of the agreement.
The energy generated from offshore wind power projects is to be consumed in captive mode or sold to third party under open access framework or sold through merchant sale/power exchange.
Offshore wind energy is the clean and renewable energy obtained by taking advantage of the force of the wind that is produced on the high seas.
The absence of any obstruction in the sea offers a much better quality of wind, higher and more constant speed and its conversion to electrical energy.
Electricity produced by offshore wind turbines travels back to land through a series of cable systems that are buried in the sea floor.
The precious land resources required for onshore wind projects are gradually becoming a major constraint. With exhaustion of the best windy sites, offshore wind power offers a plausible alternative.
Offshore wind can be deployed at large scale, in short timeframes and at competitive cost.
India is blessed with a coastline of about 7,600 km, surrounded by water on three sides and has good prospects of harnessing offshore wind energy.
Considering this, the government had notified the ‘National Offshore Wind Energy Policy’ on 6 October 2015 for the development of offshore wind power in the country.
The policy provides for offshore wind power development up to a seaward distance of 200 nautical miles from the baseline, i.e., up to the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Further, in September 2018, the government issued ‘Guidelines for Offshore Wind Power Assessment Studies and Surveys,’ allowing private participation in studies and surveys for offshore wind power.
The policy recognises the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) as the Nodal Ministry, and the National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) as the Nodal Agency for the development of Offshore Wind Energy in India.
70 GW Estimated Potential
Preliminary studies carried out by NIWE across the coastline of India indicate good potential, both off the southern tip of the country and the west coast for offshore wind farm development in India.
Initial assessment of offshore wind energy potential within the identified zones has been estimated to be about 70 GW off the coast of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu only.
Reviving The Sector
Despite having geographical advantages and a robust policy regime, the sector has not taken off as anticipated — no offshore wind project has been established in the country till date.
Considering the fact that in order to achieve the enhanced target of 500 GW of non-fossil fuel based installed energy capacity by 2030, there is a need to harness every possible renewable energy resource — the centre has renewed its efforts to boost wind energy segment.
In June this year, the MNRE announced that bids would be issued for offshore wind energy in blocks of 4 GW annually for three years, starting with the current Financial Year (FY) 2022-23 for development off the coast of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
Subsequently, a project capacity of 5 GW will be bid out every year for a period of five years, i.e., up till FY 2029-30.
The draft tender issued by the ministry is part of the June 2022 announcement.