Tenders released by the Union Government to setup offshore wind farms along coast of Tamil Nadu, India.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the Government of India, has floated tenders for the offshore wind farms to generate about 7215 MW (megawatt) at Danushkodi in Tamil Nadu.
International competitive bidding
The tender document says that the offshore wind mill developers will be selected through an internationally competitive bidding process. Unlike onshore wind power mills, whose capacity is less than 1MW per mill, offshore wind power mills will have a minimum capacity of 13MW per mill. The bidder should have experience in installing and operationalizing such massive wind mills offshore.
The bidder offering the highest lease fee per sq. km of sea bed area would be the winner of the project.
Free energy Evacuation & transmission for the bidders
The tender claims that till the 2030s the government will evacuate and transmit power from offshore pooling substations (OPS) to onshore substations free of cost. As this is the first time India will have offshore wind mills, there is no experience in setting up these windmills within India, and therefore companies from either the UK or Denmark will be investing in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
The scheduled date for the commissioning of the full capacity of the project shall be 48 months from the effective date of the agreement.
The National Institute of Wind Energy will play an important role
“National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) or its designated agency will issue a letter of consent to the selected developer for carrying out the offshore wind measurement and other surveys after obtaining requisite clearances from the concerned ministries according to the national offshore wind energy policy,” said the official document.
Tamil Nadu & Gujarat coasts boast of a huge wind energy
As per a study carried out by the Gujarat state government, the 1,600 km-long coastline offers a potential of 32GW to 35GW of offshore wind power generation.
With more than 18,000 MW capacity of onshore windmills, Tamil Nadu is the wind power capital of the country. But the onshore wind power is seasonal and it is available only between May 15 and September 15.
A similar study carried out by Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco), has found that the state will get offshore wind between June 15 and January 30, and that too round the clock without any break in between.
As per assessment by the Ministry of new and renewable energy, GOI, using satellite data and data from other sources, eight zones in both Gujarat and Tamil Nadu have been identified as potential offshore areas for the exploitation of offshore wind energy. The initial assessment conducted by NIWE within these identified zones suggests that there is a potential of 36 GW of offshore wind energy off the coast of Gujarat alone. Additionally, there is approximately 35 GW of offshore wind energy potential along the coast of Tamil Nadu.
Offshore wind farms in India has an advantage over others
In European countries, offshore wind power is continuous, but at times, they have to depend on other power sources as the wind suddenly stops. “In Tamil Nadu, even during the onshore wind power season (between May 15 and September 15), the thermal units are on standby in case wind power generation declines suddenly. However, with offshore wind power, there is no such necessity as the power production from offshore wind mills will be throughout the season.
The Palk Strait is more or less a wind tunnel, as It is only through the Palk Strait that wind passes between June and January, and thus the Strait acts as a wind tunnel.
Dhanuskodi – the offshore wind energy capital of India
“Dhanushkodi in Tamil Nadu is the best offshore place for evacuating wind power. The wind power projects located there will have a bigger capacity, unlike onshore wind mills. It is because the wind blows vigorously at Dhanushkodi, so high-capacity offshore windmills, with larger turbines, can be easily installed and operated, to produce power in megabytes.
The offshore wind farm will be set up inside the sea within the boundary of 30 km from shore.
“The offshore wind power projects will not use any concrete to set up the windmill. Instead, the projects will use steel that will not corrode. Thus, there is no danger to any marine animals,” the official added.
India’s potential for offshore wind energy
The vast coastline of India, stretching over 7,500 kilometers, is blessed with immense wind potential. Offshore wind farms, being located in the sea or ocean, can tap into stronger and more consistent wind speeds than their onshore counterparts. It can result in higher energy output and efficiency. Preliminary studies suggest that the coasts of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu alone hold the potential to generate up to 50 GW of offshore wind energy.
Advantages of Offshore Wind Energy
- Higher Efficiency: As mentioned earlier, the winds over the ocean are generally stronger and more consistent, leading to increased energy output.
- Reduced Land Use: One of the challenges of onshore wind farms is the extensive land requirement. Offshore windmills circumvent this issue, making them especially valuable for a densely populated country like India.
- Reduced Noise and Visual Impact: By being located off the coast, these windmills address concerns of noise and visual aesthetics that sometimes accompany onshore wind farms.
- Potential for Larger Turbines: Offshore installations can accommodate large turbines, that can produce more energy.
Initiatives and Progress
Recognizing the potential, the Indian government has taken numerous initiatives:
National Offshore Wind Energy Policy (2015): This policy was launched to provide a framework for the development of offshore wind energy in India. It outlines procedures for project development and aims to promote private participation in the sector.
Collaboration with Global Partners: India has collaborated with countries like Denmark and the UK, which have a rich history of offshore wind energy development, to gain expertise and technological know-how.
Several feasibility studies and surveys are underway to understand the real potential and challenges specific to Indian waters.
The journey towards harnessing offshore wind energy in India is still in its nascent stages. However, with the right policy framework, technological advancements, and collaboration, offshore wind farms could play a pivotal role in India’s renewable energy portfolio. As India strives to meet its Paris Agreement commitments and seeks to reduce its carbon footprint, offshore wind energy stands as a promising beacon of sustainable growth.