“Give us a policy that will drive growth”. This is the prayer of K. Kasthurirangaian, National Chairman of the Indian Wind power Association (IWPA).
“Though Prime Minister keeps on speaking in support of green energy, who is going to help him translate his dreams into reality ?”, he asks.
He is considered the “Pithamahan” in the green energy circles here for his unflagging zeal in promoting clean energy and his indomitable will and perseverance to bring about a change in the attitude of the Government and also the industries that will prove beneficial to the society at large.
There is nothing that he does not know regarding wind energy industry.
He has the unique distinction of being invited by the Energy Fair at Hanover, Germany, in April 2003, to talk on Indian wind power industry.
Born in an agricultural family at Mettupalayam in 1932, he graduated in Mechanical Engineering from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore. He was an Assistant Professor at Coimbatore Institute of Technology for a decade.
“Foundry industry in Coimbatore is more than a century old. However, I also started a small foundry in 1963. But I didn't want to make pump motors as others did as I wanted to do something differently”, he says.
In a chat with G. Satyamurty, Mr. Kasthurirangaian talks about his voyage in the industrial world , his association with industrial bodies , his love for clean energy and his current endeavour to contribute something substantial for wind energy sector.
“I was the first to do automobile castings here including brake and engine components”.
Now they are used in more than 35 countries apart from the domestic market.
His company was the first in India to get ISI certification marking for its castings as early as 1975. Now his unit is ISO 9001:2000 certified.
One who has led several industrial associations, he is now the Chairman of the 1000-investor member strong IWPA. He is also a member of the National Council of the CII.
Despite nearing 80, his brain is razor sharp and he comes out with a coherent argument why both the Central and State Governments should chisel their policy towards promoting green energy.
“”I have been a green enthusiast from the beginning and also an organic farmer. I didn't like to use energy that comes out of burning coal”.
Then began his quest for wind energy, which is clean, in abundance and renewable.
His company was one among the early birds to enter the wind energy sector in 1994.
He recalls the assurance of former TNEB Chairman Appadurai in 1980s which triggered the enthusiasm of the entrepreneurs who were bent upon generating clean energy.
“He promised us: put up wind mill in any part of Tamil Nadu. Our Department will deliver it at the door step of your factory located in any part of the State”.
He remembers with gratitude that the Electricity Department then collected just two per cent of the electricity generated as its service charge.
As wind mills generate 85 per cent of their total production in just six months of a year (May –October), “we were allowed to bank that energy (deposit) for the rest of the year”.
“These are the two major policy initiatives which will support the industry that every State should undertake”, he pleads.
“Now my foundry uses only the power from the renewable energy wind farms put up in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka”.
But most of the States, where wind energy could be tapped, are unwilling to come out with anything concrete in terms of policy support.
While Gujarat wants to use gas which it has in abundance, Andhra Pradesh wants to tap both hydel and KG gas potential it has. Rajasthan wants to go in for solar power.
Only Karnataka is prepared to put up wind mills for generating 1,000 MW every year.
Tamil Nadu has all along been in the forefront.
In Tamil Nadu, the contribution of hydel is just seven per cent of the total energy production. Wind power comes next with 13 per cent. The production cost of wind energy is just about Rs. 5 crores for one MW.
“While India can produce 48,000 MW of wind energy, so far we have installed wind mills that could generate only 10,500 MW.”
It is estimated that Tamil Nadu could produce 5,500 MW in the wind energy sector. Of that we have installations for producing 4,582 MW at present. Of the 200 places recommended in the country for installing wind mills, 60 are in Tamil Nadu. “Thus 40 per cent of the total wind energy installations in the country are in our State”.
But, Mr .Kasthurirangaian is not satisfied.
He points out the phenomenal progress that Chinas has made in this sector. “Three years ago, China put up wind mills to generate 3,000 MW. Next year it added wind farms for 6,000 MW more. Last year, it augmented its capacity by 10,000 MW more. Now it has plans to install wind mills for another 25,000 MW. There is every possibility it will reach the No. 1 spot from the current No. 3 at the world level next year”.
He is categorical that the commitment of the Central Government with regard to energy leaves much to be desired.”
For example, it is squabbling over making some extra payment for buying ethanol from the sugar mills which could be mixed with petrol. This could save substantial precious foreign exchange, and after all, it is our own farmers who would benefit.”
Similarly, give the electric vehicle manufacturers considerable tax breaks or tax holiday to promote them, he says.
“The Centre is talking of National Solar Mission. When is it going to think of National Wind Mission?”
He is thoroughly unhappy with TNEB for delaying payments to the wind farm companies to the tune of Rs. 150 crores for the past six months saying it has no money.” This amount is a pittance for such a big organisation”.
He also wonders why it pays three types of tariff for the wind farms depending upon the period in which they were installed.
“Can't this be uniform? Why are you penalising those who installed them well ahead of others?”
He doesn't want any subsidy at all.” What we want is a good policy frame work that will drive growth, support and sustain this industry which will benefit the world at large,” he concludes.
Keywords: Alternative energy solutions