India May Have Significantly Higher Potential For Wind Energy Than Estimated, Study

A new study suggests that India may have a 20-30 fold greater potential for wind energy deployment than current government estimates.

AsianScientist (Mar. 23, 2012) – New estimates on wind energy in India by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found that the potential for on-shore wind energy deployment is about 20-30 times greater than the current government estimate of 102 gigawatts.

The new Berkeley Lab study found the total techno-economic wind potential to range from 2,006 GW for 80-meter hub heights (wind turbine height above the ground) to 3,121 GW for 120-meter hub heights.

This landmark finding may have a significant impact as India attempts to cope with a massive and chronic shortage of electricity.

“The main importance of this study, why it’s groundbreaking, is that wind is one of the most cost-effective and mature renewable energy sources commercially available in India, with an installed capacity of 15 GW and rising rapidly,” said Berkeley Lab scientist Amol Phadke, the lead author of the report.

“The cost of wind power is now comparable to that from imported coal and natural gas-based plants, and wind can play a significant role in cost effectively addressing energy security and environmental concerns.”

More than 95 percent of the wind potential is concentrated in five states in southern and western India.

The previous wind potential estimate in India of 102 GW is based on the assumption that only two percent of the windy land is available for wind power development. Using publicly available GIS (geographic information system) data on topography and land use, the team found a significantly higher availability of land that can potentially be used for wind power development.

The study found that the total footprint required to develop high-quality wind energy is approximately 1,629 square kilometers, or 0.05 percent of the total land area in India. Typically, only about three percent of a wind farm is occupied by the wind turbines and related infrastructure; the rest of the land can be used for other purposes.

Phadke and his team have been discussing their findings informally and formally with several key government agencies in India and have gotten positive responses.

“The key agency in charge, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), has now signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Berkeley Lab to collaborate on several issues related to potential estimates and wind energy integration,” said Jayant Sathaye, who leads the International Energy Studies Group at Berkeley Lab.

Ranjit Bharvirkar, a co-author on the study and senior consultant at Itron Inc., said part of the motivation for reassessing India’s wind potential came from recent reassessments of wind potential in the United States and China, with estimates showing a ten-fold jump in China.

Improved wind technology, including higher efficiency and hub heights, accounted for much of the increase along with more advanced mapping techniques.

The article can be found at: Reassessing Wind Potential Estimates for India: Economic and Policy Implications.


Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
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