An expert committee has suggested that offshore farms to harness wind energy may be set up at Rameshwaram, Kanyakumari, Maharashtra, Kerala-Konkan and Gujarat, Rajya Sabha was informed today.

Minister of New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah said during Question Hour that his ministry had constituted an Offshore Wind Energy Steering Committee to develop offshore wind power in India in a planned manner.

The panel, headed by Secretary, MNRE, had constituted a sub-committee under Chairman, Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, to suggest draft policy guidelines for development of wind energy activities in the country.

“The sub-committee submitted its report to the Ministry in September 2012,” he said.

It identified Rameshwaram, Kanyakumari, Maharashtra, Kerala-Konkan and Gujarat for locating wind farms in shallow waters 12 nautical miles from the coast, he said adding it also suggested setting up of a National Offshore Wind Authority for giving licences for such farms on lines of the oil and gas exploration licensing.

Though there is huge potential, offshore wind energy is expensive with no final figures arrived yet, he said. Power evacuation was a problem with no developer willing to lay transmission lines to bring electricity from the installations standing in the sea to inland.

Abdullah said the per mega-watt cost of putting up an offshore wind energy farm is stated to be Rs 10-15 crore and even this was not the final estimate. This compares to Rs 4-5 crore per MW for coal and Rs 6 per MW for gas-based plants.

“We are taking help from Denmark, England and Germany who have developed offshore wind farms,” he said adding his ministry was looking into a project suggested by Suzlon.

The Minister said wind energy manufacturers had been going through rough times because of delay in payments by state government and transmission lines in some states not keeping up with the wind power generating machines.

Besides, power tariffs are low and companies feel they need to be raised for them to survive. Besides, generation and depreciation incentives are no longer available, he said.

India, which is already the fifth biggest wind energy developer in the world, is looking to tap the over 7,500 km long coastline for development of offshore wind energy, especially in the coastal states of Gujarat, Maharastra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

“Apart from the presence of a policy, the implementation of offshore wind energy projects also depends upon firming of the wind resource, oceanographic studies, environmental impact assessment and various clearance required for such project,” he added.

(This article was published on December 10, 2012)
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