The Indian Puranas talk of five fundamental elements that sustain life in the universe, and wind is one of them. Wind sustains life on the planet with air to breathe, and seasons to sustain; we are now learning that it can also be a large source of energy, without pollution and other dangers that haunt many other sources of energy. At the present juncture, offshore wind power appears to be a costly resource with high variability. Like all variable renewable power, it poses challenges for integration into existing grids. But, the amount of energy it can harness is tantalisingly large. Hence technologists are working to make wind power more efficient, predictable and compatible to the grid that integrates all sources of energy. The wind turbine technology has come of age and is now able to harness wind at greater heights with turbine blades light and efficient. Composite materials with light weight and high elastic modulus have become the ideal material for manufacturing blades and the tower structures and structural foundations are all designed to be more efficient.
How do we ensure that these technologies do not encroach on the already scarce land on the coast? One option would be to explore offshore locations for erecting the towers and while doing this, ensure that they do not affect other activities in the sea, such as shipping, fishing or mineral exploration.
As against power from conventional sources, offshore wind energy will have fewer environmental issues; can offer vast stretches of area to erect high capacity wind farms. However, the challenge would be to make offshore wind power affordable in India. This will be a long road and will require a detailed understanding of the offshore wind resource.
Offshore wind industry will require equipping associated infrastructure such as ports to handle installation and maintenance of wind farms in the sea. It will need indigenisation of several components in the supply chain to make it suitable and affordable in India. Offshore wind power could potentially be a new addition in India's energy mix in a few decades but the foundation for this industry will have to be laid now. It will have to be done after a detailed and careful analysis of all its social costs and benefits along with its economic rationale. It is imperative to gather as much information as possible so that the decisions are robust.
We start with identifying the most promising sites using Geographical Information Systems (GIS), satellite and weather modeling-based wind data for estimating the energy generation potential. These are the activities that FOWIND will address in the coming few months. The mission is to make offshore wind power affordable, freeing the society from the smoke belching coal fired power stations we are so dependent on today.
Dr. V.S Arunachalam
Chairman & Founder
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