Ever since I started my journey in the Indian renewable energy sector 8 years back, I have been hearing central and state governments blowing hot and cold on offshore wind energy. Anyone listening to them could have been excused in thinking that offshore wind was round the corner.
We are in 2015, and you would be surprised to know that we do not even have a demonstration/pilot for offshore wind in India.
The reasons are not far to seek.
Firstly, India’s offshore wind potential (in terms of MW per Km or any such measure) is not certainly not the best in the world. Many regions in Northern Europe, in parts of United States and Australia, and Africa, are far more suited for offshore wind than is India.
Secondly, offshore wind costs a heck of a lot more than does onshore wind farms. While estimates vary, a typical offshore wind farm could cost about or more than twice that of an onshore wind farm (an onshore wind farm today costs about Rs 6 crores per MW).
Third, when the capex is double that of onshore wind farms, investors will also require double the output. In theory, offshore wind farms can have CUFs reaching 45%, but these need to be proven through pilot projects. Unless we have a good idea of the potential output from offshore wind farms, the economics of these compared to onshore wind farms will not be clear to investors. Until then, they will happily continue investing in domains where data are more certain – onshore wind and solar PV.
Finally, offshore wind farm construction is far more cumbersome and could require far many more approvals than those for onshore wind farms.
All the above had made the Indian industry not so keen on offshore wind so far.
However, I read that there is a new Offshore Wind Policy announced recently. Coupled with the fact that GWEC (Global Wind Energy Council) is assisting India with a roadmap for offshore wind, one could be a bit more optimistic about offshore wind.
Please note however that even according to GWEC, by 2019, we will just have pilot projects running.
Man, that’s a pretty long time to have just pilots. By 2019, India could have having about 40 GW of solar and an equivalent amount of onshore wind – that is, about 80 GW of solar and wind together, with perhaps 15 GW of solar and wind added every year!