By T. Asok kumar, Sr. Vice President (Design & Development), Pioneer Wincon Private Ltd.
While the wind industry is growing with fast pace, a few roadblocks are posing challenges. There is a dramatic change in availability of land for wind energy field. Grid connectivity is again a big bottleneck.About ten years back, the wind energy industry was focusing towards technology, upgradation to high capacity, etc. At that point of time, both Wind Turbine Manufacturers and Wind Farm Developers never thought that land availability and the grid connectivity is going to become such a serious issue. Today, the problem has become a magnificent issue and that needs to be addressed.
Utility companies (State Electricity Boards) started enforcing many conditions on grid connectivity, like creating own sub-station by Wind Farm Developers / Wind Turbine Manufacturers, exclusive feeder for connecting wind turbines, etc. Moreover, they are also focusing their discussions towards generation, based incentives rather than captive consumption. The infrastructure development charges (IDC) has also gone up tremendously due to the increased cost of capital equipments, spares and consumables, apart from increased operating and maintenance cost.
To add to the above, the availability of land is becoming a major threat since potential wind sites had all been exhausted and the remaining available sites are generally low and medium windy ones. Hence, there is a demand for wind turbines suitable to operate only on low and medium windy sites i.e. Class III A&B wind sites. The cost of the land has also considerably gone up due to the awareness of the land owners / land brokers. Due to less land availability especially in very remote areas, the transportation of heavy equipments like nacelles, blades, towers, etc. is also becoming more and more difficult.
Considering all the above, the wind turbine manufacturers and wind farm developers have to start thinking on sites with low and medium wind, along with improved technology based turbines like increased hub height, increased rotor diameter, gearless model wind turbines with permanent magnet generators, gear model wind turbines with doubly fed generators in the range of MW capacities, etc. all with variable speed and variable pitch technology.
The above said changes in scenario will only operate the industry to continue to have the benefits of wind energy as a whole in our country. Like in Europe, the time is now not far away to think on off shore wind turbines.