'Replacing low capacity old windmills with higher-powered machines uneconomical now'

Chennai, Sep 20 (IANS): Wind turbines, of about four or five giga watt (GW) capacity, must have passed or nearing the end of usual life but repowering or installing higher capacity machines in their place does not work out economical for want of incentives as compared to a new site, said wind energy industry officials.

They also said the wind energy industry would close this year adding 5GW of capacity.

Out of the 43 GW wind energy capacity in the country, about four or five GW capacity are of old lower capacity machines -- less than one MW -- but sitting on best wind sites and ready for repowering, Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association (IWTMA) Secretary General D.V.Giri.

Nowadays there are turbines with four or five MW capacity. But decommissioning an old plant and setting up a new higher capacity machine is uneconomical as compared to setting up a new higher capacity machine at a new site, said Parag Sharma, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, O2 Power Private Ltd.

He said it would cost anything between Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore to decommission an old windmill and the cost of new mill will be about Rs 8.5 crore per MW.

According to him, without any tax incentives, decommissioning an old windmill and putting up a new higher powered windmill does not work out economically even though more units will be generated by the new machine.

That aside, there should be a proper policy on the safe disposal of old machines, said Dr Saravanan Manickam, Chief Executive Officer, Nordex India – makers and exporters of wind turbines.

He also said many of the power generators with the old machines would be supplying power at a higher price than what is being realised now.

Manickam said a small windmill needs a smaller land whereas a bigger capacity windmill needs a much larger piece of land for erection and for safe operation.

The industry officials also did not agree with the idea of the government acquiring the wind sites populated with low capacity machines - like acquiring land for infrastructure projects - and reauctioning them.

Giri said the Tamil Nadu government has instituted a study on repowering and one has to wait for the report. He also said the wind turbine manufacturing industry in India is nearing maturity and would need schemes like productivity linked incentives (PLI) to compete in the global market.

After a gap of some years, the Windergy India 2023 a trade fair-cum-exhibition will be held here at the Chennai Trade Centre from October 4-6, Giri said.

He said the event will have over 180 exhibitors and expected to get over 6,000 footfalls.

"We expect about 400 delegates for the conference and there will be 45 speakers," Giri said.



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