Flowing With Indian Wind (1998 to 2017)
Wind Energy in India is moving ahead in a roller-costar motion of ups and downs. First phase of growth was witnessed during 1960 to 1996, though in a very slow pace. Then there was a slagging down before it kicked start again in end 1998.This second phase of growth was very powerful and placed the country in the world wind energy atlas as one of the top players and India obtained fourth rank with total wind power generation capacity of 37.74GW, just after China (236.4GW), USA (105.46GW) and Germany(61.35GW). But again there was a slump for years…Will third phase of growth will start soon?
Wind Energy, as a part of renewable energy, had drawn interest of government during late 1980 -early 1990 and about 52MW demonstration projects had been installed with the help of Danish International Development Cooperation Agency. During the period of 1985–1986 government (MNES) had initiated a programme and tied up a large number of international players with the Indian Companies to manufacture of wind turbine components and assembly and service the turbine. Focused capacity model was 250KW at that time with an indigenization of components up to around 80%.
In continuation to this, 970MW had also been installed with the support of World Bank, the Global Environmental Agencies and private sector investments. This was a period that had given a push to India’s wind energy potential utilization and with much enthusiasm, a scaled-up wind power potential was estimated about 45,000MW at 50m hub height, before everything again took a downward turn from mid 1996 and kept lean up to 1998, because of unknown reasons.
Wind Turbines began to come back in business from end 1998.By the end March 1999 over 1025MW had got installed across the country. I entered in Wind Energy sector at this point of time, in November 1998.One small company named Suzlon Energy Ltd. was trying to get a foot hold in to this space with a 350KW model turbines & 50 meters hub height made in collaboration with a German turbine designer. Installation site was at ‘Bhogat’ village situated in costal Gujarat.
Couple of months before that, in June,1998, a devastating cyclone had passed through this costal belt destroying almost all installations and Suzlon acquired an order of 29 (as I can recall) turbines (as a first big ticket order) to rebuilt one wind park. In order to execute that order, they were in need of a person who can develop a team of technicians and run a small turbine assembly set up and I got that job.1998 was important for another good reason, in this year the ‘World watch Institute’ had recognize India as a potential ‘Wind Super Power’ (which became a reality in the following years) and the Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET) had been established by the government of India for the development of wind energy in the country.
In 1999, one of the biggest site in India came up to take shape on the hill top of Vankuswade, Maharashtra. Suzlon with 350KW turbine had begun its sailing with the erection of 8 turbines for a big Indian business house named Bajaj Electricals Ltd. and from there, never looked back till the population crosses the mark of 560 turbines in that site, completely changing the sky line of ‘Vankuswade’ filled with gently moving blades. This site became Asia’s largest wind farm at that time and today it is the 5th largest wind farm in India, with a total capacity of 259 MW.
Next year, in 2000, first MW class turbine enters in the market of India with Suzlon’s 1MW model for 62 meter hub height. Total 63 turbines ware installed in the ridge of ‘Supa’ village in Maharashtra, before the discontinuation of this model within a short span of time. Except this 1MW model, other wind turbines available in the Indian market were up to maximum 800KW capacity, like 225KW, 250KW, 350KW, 650KW, 700KW and 800KW.
Following the introduction of 1MW model, turbines bigger with bigger capacity started entering in Indian market. Suzlon itself had introduced models like 1.25MW and 1.5MW. Another player NEGMicon also introduced 1500MW and the growth of wind energy in India moves on. At this juncture, some more new players entered in this space, but majority of them unfortunately failed either due to lack of technology support or due to poor understanding of the market. In this respect ,I can recall the name of Global Wind Power (2007), NuPower Renewables(2011) and Escort India (2009).
Further, India added a capacity of 496 MW within 9 months between April to December 2004 and reached a milestone of total 2980 MW wind power capacity installation. By the end of financial year in March, total addition reached to 1,111 MW and the cumulative installation jumped to 3,595 MW.The growth was about 44% and this was positioning India in a very strong stature in the world wind energy space. Corporate giants like Tata,Godrej,Birla,Jindal Steel, Bajaj, Ajanta Clock and many big textile mills were getting interested in investing in wind projects.
State wise installed capacity at this point of time (2004–2005)was as under:
Tamil Nadu : 675 MW.
Karnataka. : 201MW.
Rajasthan : 106MW.
Andhra Pradesh :22MW.
Suzlon, Enercon and Vestas were already operating, in addition, Spanish Gamesa entered Indian market in 2003 and two other Indian turbine makers ,Kenersys and ReGen Powertech had also started their operations in 2003 and 2008 respectively. 2004 onwards Suzlon Energy started exporting its 2.1MW model to USA,EU, Australia and Brazil along with dominating Indian market as numero uno. During 2005–2006 again, India added 2000MW more capacity in its generation portfolio. Meanwhile, in 2006 world leader Vestas broke its JV with RRB India. Enercon India entered in to a legal battle with its parent German company and eventually rebranded itself as ‘Wind World’ in 2013.By the end of 2007,India became world’s top third country in terms of capacity addition with total installed capacity of 7844 MW.
The growth continued and by the end of March 2009 ,India’s total installed capacity became 10242.5MW. This was a proud contribution of 7% from wind energy sector to the national power grid. A new player, ‘Inox Wind’ entered in the Indian wind space during 2010 with a 2MW model. At the same time another lesser active company named ‘Win Wind Power’ was also planning to launch its 1000KW model in the market.India’s wind energy sector was growing keeping pace with the other countries of the world, in 2011 total capacity addition was 3019MW and in 2012 it was 2336MW, placing it in the global fifth rank.
2010 to 2016 was the history of Suzlon’s fall and rise of Inox Wind. Because of various reasons Suzlon slowly entered in to a debt trap and started losing its ground in the home market. Vestas and Gamesa were taking over. Inox Wind, a new company was capturing a good portion of the market share and was growing very fast to climb to the 3rd position in the Indian wind energy market during 2016–2017, just behind Gamesa and Vestas. However, in terms of total market share Suzlon still remained at the top with 35.4%. WindWorld was next with 18%,Gamesa was third with 10.1%, fourth was Vestas with 7.6% and then InoxWind with 5.6% of the market share.
In 2016,India had taken a target to have 60GW wind energy capacity by 2022 and 80GW by 2032,in order to contribute 10% in country’s total electricity generation portfolio. Chasing this target, broke all previous record and added a spectacular 3.4GW new capacity in that year,following which again in 2017 the capacity addition crossed 5.4GW,total wind energy capacity of the country rose to 31GW.
So far things were falling in line and the picture was looking promising but, the sudden transition from feed-in -tariff (FiT) to reverse auction regime overturned the game and resulted in to very low annual capacity addition in the following years. In 2017–2018 the capacity addition was only 1.78GW and in 2018–2019 it was 1.48GW.Total capacity became 35.625GW at the end of March 2019.Phase II of Indian wind energy development dropped the curtain at this point.
Prevailing depressing situation since 2017 has completely destroyed the industry and many of OEM have closed down their manufacturing plants fully or partially in order to survive. Thousands of people have lost their jobs because of downsizing. It is now sincerely hoped that from 2021–2022 the industry will show some progress and will come back to its growth path.
Disclaimer: It is mostly narrated from my memory and actual events may slightly differ in cases.