An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Wind powered India!

I did not realize that the wind power in India was getting ready for big times! But this article brings it out very nicely:

With booming India looking to tap every possible source of energy, one area of focus recently has been wind energy, widely regarded as a particularly environment-friendly and renewable form of alternative energy.

Particular attention has fallen on the sector because of recent big-ticket announcements by Indian wind-energy firm Suzlon and a top Indian businessman’s foray into tapping wind energy. Adding a bit of welcome glamour to the field, Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai and cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar have invested in windmill projects in the Satara district of Maharashtra and in Jaisalmer in Rajasthan.

Globally, there has been a big push to harness alternative sources of energy, and wind power, a fairly mature technology, has become one of the most popular alternatives. In the mid-1990s the wind-energy business was seen as uncertain because of the predominance of fossil fuels. With oil prices in the US$60-$70-per-barrel range, and demand for energy rising exponentially, this is no longer the case.

India is well positioned to reap the benefits of the wind boom. The country’s monsoon winds, particularly the southwest monsoon, which provides 80% of the wind-energy generation potential, contribute to a current annual power production of about 4,300 megawatts from wind projects, standing fourth in the world behind Germany, Spain and the United States. The Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy foresees added capacity of 5,000MW from wind by 2012. Not only is India seen as the largest market for wind energy in the Asia-Pacific region, but it is a manufacturing hub for wind turbines and related parts and equipment.

Non-resident Indian (NRI) businessman C Sivasankaran, who last year pocketed $800 million by selling his mobile-phone service, Aircel, to Malaysia’s Maxis, is investing more than $120 million in the wind-energy sector, which is only Phase 1 of his more elaborate plans. Siva has acquired land across India’s most promising regions for wind energy (the Tirunelveli and Nagercoil districts in South Tamil Nadu) and is picking up equity stakes in contractors for maintaining the windmills.

Orders for the windmills will be placed soon, Sivasankaran told The Times of India: "Our Phase 1 plan envisages a financial investment of Rs6 billion [$134 million]. We want to have 150MW [of power-generation capacity] under our belt in the first year of our operations." He said the group has acquired close to 485 hectares of land across South Tamil Nadu for this purpose. "We will set up 150 windmills, each with a capacity to generate 1MW," he said.

Prior to Siva’s moves, Pune-based wind-turbine manufacturer Suzlon Energy announced plans to invest $60 million in its factory in the eastern Chinese port city of Tianjin. The investment is the first by an Indian company in the Chinese energy sector and one of the largest by any Indian firm in China, which has set itself a goal of 30 gigawatts (1GW = 1,000MW) of installed renewable capacity within the next 15 years. At present, China’s renewable-energy consumption accounts for only 3% of this total. The plan is to build wind-power facilities of 5,000MW by 2010 and increase this to 30,000MW by 2020. At present, Germany, Spain and the US are the biggest markets for wind power.

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