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Those were the days when we used to quote 45,000 MW as the total potential for wind power in India.

And then came many industry experts who said it could be as high as 100 GW, given the more efficient turbines that can also operate at higher altitudes.

Just when many in India are locked with CWET and other research firms on whether India’s wind power potential is 48,000 MW or 100,000 MW, here comes a nice bunch of guys from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LNBL), USA, who claim Indian wind potential could be anywhere between 2000 GW to 3000 GW. That is 20-30 times the most recent estimates.

” The new Berkeley Lab study has found the total techno-economic wind potential to range from 2,006 GW for 80-m hub heights (an indication of how high the wind turbine stands above the ground) to 3,121 GW for 120-m hub heights”, says this report

How do they make such a bold statement? They appear to base their reasoning on the fact that all previous estimates were based on faulty assumptions of land availability.

“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. However, this assumption is not based on any assessment of land availability. The Berkeley Lab study undertook a systematic assessment of the availability of land using publicly available GIS (geographic information system) data on topography and land use and found a significantly higher availability of land that can potentially be used for wind power development, which is the primary reason for the higher potential estimates.”

You can read more on this from here.

Assuming these sanguine folks are correct, that’s a lot of potential. India’s total installed electricity capacity is a bit over 200,000 MW, that is 200 GW. At 2000 GW, wind has ten times the potential as today’s total electricity installed capacity. Even after factoring that wind power has much lower PLFs than thermal (25% vs 85%), you still have a thermal equivalent potential for wind at about 600 GW ( 2000*25/85).

Let’s hope the (Indian) Americans are right.