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Full up on wind energy front?

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T. Ramakrishnan

Capacity addition declined sharply during 2006-07

CHENNAI: Is Tamil Nadu, a trendsetter in wind energy development, reaching the stage of saturation?

It appears to be so, going by the data available with the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board on the potential, and exploitation, of wind energy, though experts and the Board say the State still has much to offer.

After a spell of high growth for two years, the capacity addition declined sharply during 2006-07.

Against the addition of 675 megawatt during 2004-2005 and 858 MW during 2005-2006, it was 565 MW last year. One of the factors cited is saturation.

(According to the Board website, the wind energy development in the State began in 1985-86 with the Board installing a 50-kilowatt windmill.

The State’s contribution is 60 per cent of the installed capacity of the country’s wind mill power projects).

A senior official of the Board says the exploitable potential of wind power is being revised. As per a conservative estimate, at least 1,000 MW more of wind energy can be exploited.

The May 2006 order of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission on power purchase from non-conventional energy sources states that the potential of wind energy is 4,500 MW.

M.P. Ramesh, Executive Director, Centre for Wind Energy Technology, an autonomous institution under the Union Government, which serves as the technical focal point for wind energy development, says a wind atlas that will reveal the position more accurately than ever before is being prepared.

T.B. Chikkoba, former Member (Generation) of the Board, says that besides identification of new sites, higher-capacity machines can be installed even in the existing sites where wind mills are functioning.

Off-shore plants can also be established, as in Europe, especially the Netherlands.

Dr. Ramesh says as the subject of setting up off-shore plants is under study, a clear picture will emerge only after the study is completed. A former Chief Engineer of the Board, who handled the portfolio of renewable energy, puts the figure of the exploitable potential at 5,000 MW, and calls for adequate transmission infrastructure. He also favours strengthening of the network of inter-State and inter-regional lines so that surplus power, when available, can be supplied to the needy States.

An industry source says the Board, which has installed several transmission lines in the Coimbatore region in the last two years, should execute a similar work in the Tuticorin-Kanniyakumari belt.

He also wants a payment policy put in place.

The TNEB official says a high-level meeting, set for Thursday, will thrash out such issues with the wind energy industry.

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