Wind Energy in India : Scope and Challenges - Current Affair Article for UPSC, IAS, Civil Services and State PCS Examinations

Wind Energy in India : Scope and Challenges - Current Affair Article for UPSC, IAS, Civil Services and State PCS Examinations

Why in News?

The global offshore wind capacity is set to increase fifteen-fold by 2040 to reach about $1 trillion of cumulative investment, according to the recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report. This increase is contributed by falling costs, supportive government policies and rapidly progressing technology, such as larger turbines and floating foundations, according to the Offshore Wind Outlook 2019.


India’s well-developed wind power industry has the capability and experience to help meet the country’s climate and energy security goals. With the total wind installed capacity of around 35,815 MW as of 30th April 2019, India is the world’s fourth largest country in terms of total wind installations after China, the USA and Germany. Wind power has become one of the key renewable energy sources for power generation in India, contributing a share of atleast 6-7% to the country’s electricity generation mix at present.

India has made great strides in improving access to modern energy in recent years. Since 2000, India has more than halved the number of people without access to electricity and doubled rural electrification rates. Nonetheless, around 240 million people, or 20% of the population, remain without access to electricity. Wind power can play an important role in the coming decade to bring a clean and indigenous source of power to the people.

To date, the growth of the Indian wind sector has largely been led by private sector investment. The policy and fiscal support from the government has helped the industry to take the necessary business risks to advance the sector and galvanize investment in more and more states. Further, the government’s vision of promoting a diversified manufacturing sector in India through the ‘Make In India’ initiative has had the wholehearted support of the wind power industry. The move to put manufacturing at the heart of India’s growth model means a large rise in the energy needed to fuel India’s development. The wind industry can not only provide much needed high-skilled jobs but also bring abundant clean and cheap power generation into the energy mix of the future.

Offshore Wind Outlook 2019

According to Offshore Wind Outlook 2019 report by IEA the global offshore wind market is set to expand significantly over the next two decades, growing by 13% per year in the Stated Policies Scenario and faster still in the Sustainable Development Scenario. In the Sustainable Development Scenario, cumulative spending in the offshore wind sector rises by half to $1.3 trillion between 2019 and 2040 relative to the Stated Policies Scenario.

In the Stated Policies Scenario, offshore wind growth is concentrated in six regions, reflecting policy ambitions, available wind resources and the improving economics of offshore wind. Europe and China lead the offshore wind market with over 70% by 2040 of installed capacity, while there is significant expansion in the United States, Korea, India and Japan, which between them capture about onequarter of the global market.

As of mid-2019, many regions have adopted policy targets for offshore wind to 2030. The European Union has the strongest ambitions to 2030, with targets in individual member states totalling 65-85 GW by 2030. China’s Five-Year plans are encouraging provinces to expand their construction capacities for offshore wind to 2020, while state-level targets set the course for rapid growth in the United States. India, Korea and Chinese Taipei also have ambitious targets, while other countries, including Japan and Canada, are laying the groundwork for future offshore wind development. In 2018, China had already surpassed European countries in annual installations with 1.8 GW. China is aiming to install 10 GW of offshore wind energy by 2020. Similarly, Japan, South Korea and India have a target of installing 10 GW, 12 GW and 30 GW respectively by 2030.

The Asian markets are predicted to add 100 GW in offshore wind by 2030. Offshore wind is set to establish itself in a number of new markets in the Asia Pacific region, outside of China. In the Stated Policies Scenario, countries including Korea, India and Japan account for close to 60 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2040.

Wind Energy In India

National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) has a mandate to carry out wind resource assessments across India. In 2010, it created first ever Indian Wind Atlas in collaboration with Riso, Denmark. At first, it assessed wind potential of 49,130 MW at 50m above ground level. Later, it modified its calculations and estimated that the installable wind potential capacity is around 102,788 MW at 80m above ground level. It also estimated the wind power potential at 100m height as 302,251 MW. These estimations have been arrived given the 2% land availability for all states except for Himalayan states, Northeastern states and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Under The IEA New Policies Scenario, India’s wind power market would reach 50 GW by 2020 and 102 GW by 2030. Wind power would then produce close to 105 Terrawatt-hour (TWh) every year by 2020 and 294 TWh by 2030, and help save 63 million tons of CO2 in 2020 and 177 million tons in 2030.

Off-shore and Onshore Wind

Offshore wind power, sometimes referred to as offshore wind energy, is when wind over open water, usually in the ocean, is used to generate power. Wind farms are constructed in bodies of water where higher wind speeds are available. Onshore wind power refers to turbines that are located on land and use wind to generate electricity. They are generally located in areas where there is low conservation or habitat value.

Advantages of Offshore Wind:

  • Windmills can be built that are larger and taller than their onshore counterparts, allowing for more energy collection.
  • They tend to be far out at sea, meaning they are much less intrusive to neighbouring countries, allowing for larger farms to be created per square mile.
  • Typically out at sea, there is a much higher wind speed/force allowing for more energy to be generated at a time.
  • There are no physical restrictions such as hills or buildings that could block the wind flow.

Disadvantages of Offshore Wind:

  • The biggest disadvantage of an offshore wind farm is the cost. Offshore wind farms can be expensive to build and maintain and because of their hard to reach locations, they are susceptible to damage from very high-speed winds during storms or hurricanes which is expensive to repair.
  • The effect of offshore wind farms on marine life and birds are not yet fully understood.
  • Offshore wind farms that are built closer to coastlines (generally within 26 miles) can be unpopular with residents as it can affect property values and tourism.

Advantages of Onshore Wind:

  • The cost of onshore wind farms is relatively cheap, allowing for mass farms of wind turbines.
  • The shorter distance between the windmill and the consumer allows for less voltage drop off on the cabling.
  • Wind turbines are very quick to install, unlike a nuclear power station, which can take over twenty years, a windmill can be built in a matter of months.

Disadvantages of onshore Wind:

  • One of the biggest issues of onshore wind farms is that many deem them to be an eyesore on the landscape.
  • They don’t produce energy all year round due to often poor wind speed or physical blockages such as buildings or hills.
  • The noise that wind turbines create can be compared to as the same as a lawnmower often causing noise pollution for nearby communities.

Opportunities In Offshore Wind

  • Offshore wind power capacity is set to increase by at least 15-fold worldwide by 2040, becoming a $1 trillion business.
  • The promising outlook for offshore wind is underpinned by policy support in an increasing number of regions.
  • The synergies between offshore wind and offshore oil and gas activities provide new market opportunities.
  • Offshore wind can help drive energy transitions by decarbonising electricity and by producing lowcarbon fuels.
  • Technology has come a long way since windmills were used centuries ago to mill grain or pump water. Modern wind turbines are highly evolved versions and the utilityscale ones are over 100 metres tall and can power thousands of homes.
  • Offshore wind is set to be competitive with fossil fuels within the next decade, as well as with other renewables including solar PV.

Government Policy

The power from green sources such as wind and solar are aimed to fulfill several goals such as energy security, economic development, climate change mitigation, rural development and employment generation. To keep the wind program on track, in 1982, the government established the Department of Non-conventional Energy Sources (DNES), under the Ministry of Energy. In 2006, the ministry was renamed as the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). The government started with the demonstration projects to attract private investment in the sector. From the commencement of the wind program, a market-oriented strategy was implemented. It didn’t involve itself in the direct execution and functioning of wind power projects; rather it worked out the strategy to encourage the involvement of private firms. Over US$ 42 billion investment was made in renewable energy in India during last 4 years. Several Reforms has been taken by the goovernemnt to improve wind power generation sector, such as:

  • Transparent bidding and facilitation for procurement of solar and wind power through tariff based competitive bidding process have led to significant reduction in cost of solar and wind power.
  • Government waived the Inter State Transmission System charges and losses for inter-state sale of solar and wind power for projects to be commissioned by March 2022. This will encourage setting up of the projects in states that have greater resource potential and availability of suitable land.
  • For optimizing land use and harnessing solar and wind energy potential optimally, we have notified Solar-Wind hybrid policy. This policy will help in better harnessing of renewable energy resources and to an extant also address renewable energy variability, The Ministry has also brought out one tender for setting up 2000 MW solar-wind hybrid in existing projects;
  • Off-shore from Tamil Nadu and Gujarat coast provides among the best locations from wind power generation. In order to harness this potential we have formulated offshore wind power policy and expression of interest for initial 1GW off-shore wind power have already been issued;
  • The Green Energy Corridor projects seek creation of grid infrastructure for renewable power evacuation and to reshape grid for future requirements. The intra state transmission scheme (InSTS) being implemented by eight renewable rich states with an investment of Rs. 10,141 crores will set up about 9400 km transmission lines and substations of total capacity of approx. 19000 MVA to be completed March 2020.

Barriers To Wind Energy Development

While there is strong support from the central government for increased uptake of renewable energy, there remain a number of barriers to wind power reaching its full potential and the fulfillment of the ambitous targets for 2022 and beyond. A part of this is due to the fact that in local parlance the power sector is a ‘concurrent’ subject, meaning that both central and state governments exercise control. The reality is that it is often the states and local utilities which play the larger role.

Most of the state level power sector utilities in India are not in good financial health and are unable to comply with the National Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO) announced in 2016. Delayed payments of up to six months or more by certain state utilities (DISCOMs) are also an ongoing concern. The government has floated the idea of a Performance Based Initiative (PBI) which would be of particular use to financially distressed DISCOMs, where the DISCOM would receive payments from central government for the timely payment of tariffs and other performance related issues.

Further, recent interconnections between key southern states in India have at least created the wires which would facilitate the transfer of power from windy states to other parts of the country. More are needed, but in addition to wires there needs to be both a mechanism and an incentive to trade renewable power, to assist with overall system reliability as well as load balancing. A truly effective interstate market, properly incentivized, would be major boost to the renewables sector and the Indian power system as a whole.

Land acquisition and title-clearing continues to be a challenge for most onshore installations in India, and the reform of this sector is long overdue. Sourcing affordable debt finance remains a challenge. High interest rates and limited availability of affordable debt are challenges for developers as well as Original Equipments Manufacturers (OEMs) in the country. Until now, equity investors have filled the gap sufficiently, but there are limits, and having a healthy mix of debt and equity will put projects in a stronger position.


Worldwide, wind energy is accepted as one of the most developed, costeffective and proven renewable energy technologies to meet increasing electricity demands in a sustainable manner. While onshore wind energy technologies have reached a stage of large scale deployment and have become competitive with fossil fuel based electricity generation, with supportive policy regimes across the world, exploitation of offshore wind energy is yet to reach a comparable scale. India has achieved significant success in the onshore wind power development, with over 23 GW of wind energy capacity already installed and generating power.

India is surely and steadily moving towards complying with its climate change commitments under the Paris Agreement (COP21). India’s pledge at the climate summit stated the country’s intention to follow “a cleaner path than the one followed hitherto by others at a corresponding level of economic development”. To this end, India has established goals to expand its use of renewable energy and more efficient technologies.

General Studies Paper- III

  • Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

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