`Policy changes needed to replace old windmills with modern ones in TN’

Coimbatore, July 18 (IANS) Tamil Nadu has over 15-year-old windmills that have a cumulative generation capacity of around 1,000 MW which can be replaced with higher capacity machines if sufficient grid facilities are available, a top industry official said Saturday.

“Windsmills with a cumulative generation capacity of around 1,000 MW in Tamil Nadu are over 15 years old. Individually, they are small-capacity machines ranging between 200 kw and going up to sub 1 MW,” Madhusudan Khemka, chairman, Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association (IWTMA) told reporters here.

He said the old windmills are located in suitable places where there are good wind speeds.

“These machines can be replaced with higher capacity ones -1 MW to 3 MW – so that the wind harvest and power generation would be higher,” Khemka said.

He said there is potential to add around 2,000 MW in the old sites, taking the generation to around 3,000 MW.

While most of the wind turbine owners are willing to replace their old machines with newer ones, what is preventing them is the lack of grid infrastructure to evacuate the higher power from the new machines. Apart from this are the existing power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed with the power utility, Khemka said.

He said there should be a policy initiative to take into account the new technologies and capacities so that the investors do not lose money due to the lower rates of the old PPAs.

Khemka said windmill owners in Tamil Nadu face the challenge of non-availability of grid for evacuation of power or grid back down on wind power and delayed payments by the state utility.

“However the situation has improved in the recent times,” Khemka said.

According to him, investors are now looking at Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh for setting up windmills.

Tamil Nadu has an installed capacity of around 7,446 MW of wind power.

Khemka said corporates are now looking at windmills as an asset for investments rather than as a vehicle for claiming accelerated depreciation.

“Big and medium-sized industrial groups have invested in windmills as an asset, earning returns. One can get around 14-15 percent returns,” Khemka said.

Industry officials told IANS that there are rich fathers who give gifts to their daughters at the time of their marriage which provides them the needed financial security and also income.

According to Khemka, with the availability of hybrid technology-wind and solar windmill sites can be used to set up small solar power plants.

He said the wind turbine manufacturers have a combined production capacity of around 9,500 MW per annum.

With 85 percent localisation levels, the wind mill industry is a classic example for Prime Narendra Modi’s Make in India campaign.

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