Offshore wind farms to produce power for Kerala

A few years from now, wind farms located at sea could be churning out clean energy to feed the starved power grid in Kerala.

The Agency for Non-conventional Energy and Rural Technology (ANERT) is preparing to take up a wind monitoring study to identify potential offshore sites. The project is to be launched with the assistance of the Dutch government.

The Netherlands has made significant progress in harnessing wind as a renewable energy source. The country has set a target to build 6,000 MW of offshore wind power by 2020, mostly from the North Sea. During a recent discussion held with officials in Kerala, representatives of the Dutch government offered to collaborate in developing offshore wind farms.

ANERT director M. Jayaraju told The Hindu that the study would be followed by a pilot project, subject to a policy decision by the government. The project, he said, would be launched with the necessary safeguards to ensure that the offshore platforms did not interfere with fishing activities. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has identified the Kerala-Konkan coast as one of the potential sites for offshore wind farms in India.

Offshore wind farms are preferred because of the non-availability of land in densely populated coastal areas with high wind potential. The added efficiency of offshore wind power is another advantage over onshore wind turbines.

ANERT is also preparing to take up a wind-monitoring study to assess the potential for land-based wind farms in the coastal regions of the State. The study would be carried out at four locations with the help of the Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET), a Chennai-based autonomous research and development institution under MNRE.

C.K. Chandrabose, Joint Technical Director, Wind Energy project, ANERT, said the year-long studies would generate real-time, on-site data on the wind potential of offshore and coastal regions in Kerala. The base data would be a crucial factor in attracting independent power producers to set up wind farms, he said.

ANERT is also gearing up to update the available wind monitoring data at potential sites on land. The total technically-feasible onshore wind potential of the State is estimated to be around 800 MW, limited to 17 locations in Palakkad, Idukki, and Thiruvananthapuram, where the wind speed is above 15 km/hr.

The main windy areas in the State are the eastern mountainous regions of Idukki district bordering Tamil Nadu and the elevated areas in the Palakkad gap. Ponmudi in Thiruvananthapuram is another potential site.

Mr. Chandrabose said monitoring stations equipped to generate wind data at a height of 80 metres had been installed at Kanjikode in Palakkad, Chelamala in Malappuram, and Pullikanam, Vandiperiyar and Kulathumedu in Idukki.

Meanwhile, two new wind farms, slated to come up soon at Kanjikode and Ramakkalmedu in Idukki will augment the State’s total installed capacity of wind energy. While the farm at the Kinfra Park in Kanjikode will add 22 MW, the one at Ramakkalmedu being set up by NTPC will add another 20 MW to the current installed capacity of 34 MW generated by KSEB at Kanjikode and independent power producers at Attappady and Ramakkalmedu.