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The Bengal tiger awakens - again

India has huge untapped potential for wind energy, according to a new GWEC report. When will the country begin to exploit this valuable resource?

India has been a trending market for the wind industry several times in the past, but then repeatedly disappointed expectations (Image: Pixabay)India has been a trending market for the wind industry several times in the past, but then repeatedly disappointed expectations (Image: Pixabay)

The potential is enormous: in the short term alone, India can add another 23.7 GW of wind energy capacity by 2026 - provided the necessary political framework will be created. That's according to the report "Renewing wind growth to power the energy transition: India Wind Energy Market Outlook 2026" published by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) on Wednesday. In the long term, there is a lot more potential with the still completely untapped offshore wind potential of 70 GW, while various measurements commissioned by the government have shown a gross wind power potential of 302 GW onshore at 100 meters above the ground and 695.50 GW at 120 meters above the ground.

However, it is questionable whether India will tap its potential, although the wind sector there has picked up nicely in recent years. As a result, Ben Blackwell, CEO of GWEC, warns, "This Outlook is published as the world faces a decisive moment; there is a narrow window of opportunity to halt the irreversible damage to this planet from climate change by making an urgent shift to clean energy. India can seize this opportunity, but it must kick-start its energy transition after delays due to the pandemic."

While supply chains in the rest of the world are slowly recovering and the economy is already back on track, India is still suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many unvaccinated people and ever new virus variants have the country in their grip. In addition, the wind industry faces many homegrown problems, such as changing business conditions, "inconsistent federal and state-level renewable energy policies, excessive custom duties on renewable energy related products as well as financing issues," as Vibhuti Garg, a New Delhi-based energy economist, recently told U.S. News. And so India is likely to miss its 2022 climate targets.

The ever-changing fluctuations in the wind sector become clear when taking a look at Indian wind turbine manufacturer Suzlon: Once one of the big up-and-coming companies in the global wind sector, which even swallowed German manufacturer Senvion, the company has been struggling with a large mountain of debt for several years and has been on the verge of insolvency several times. Slowly, however, things are getting better, as Suzlon's Chief Financial Officer Himanshu Mody recently explained, according to Business Standard: "The financial woes are behind us. We have a healthy balance sheet, good order book and a strong pipeline".

The potential for offshore wind in India has been untapped so far (Image: Pixabay)

The fact that things are now starting to look more positive is also thanks to the current Indian government. Since last year alone, 2.7 GW of wind/solar hybrid (WSH) projects and 3.5 GW of standalone wind projects have been awarded via competitive bidding. Unlike previous years, both standalone and hybrid projects were oversubscribed, underscoring the increasingly important role of wind energy in decarbonization and building resilience in the grid system.

Sidharth Jain, Director at MEC+, highlighted, "India’s track record has indicated that the wind installation market is a lumpy market. Considerable momentum has been built in the pipeline since 2017-2018, but inordinate delays in project execution have challenged the assumptions of developers.  Despite these obstacles, wind's role as a supplement to solar energy strengthened in 2021. Wind solar hybrid project PPAs have grown within corporate procurement and DISCOMs contracts, targeted toward meeting peak power needs. The export of bigger turbines and the entry of new suppliers into the local supply market have both reinforced India's position as a global hub for wind equipment supplies. Given the trends, we are hopeful of the revitalization of demand for wind power towards 2026 in the country."

However, once again, it will be most important that the policy environment remains stable, as "policy amendments must be evaluated over a period of time to identify any scope for improvement and to fast-track progress while also ensuring a thriving business environment," emphasizes Martand Shardul, Policy Director, GWEC India.

Hopefully, the Bengal tiger will wait with his next nap. 

Katrin Radtke
India, GWEC, turbine, Suzlon, offshore, onshore, potential, wind energy, government, policy, report

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