The official added that many of these wind energy projects were around 10-15 years old and, hence, were using outdated technologies
To ensure better capacity utilization of wind energy projects and help them generate power at higher efficiency, the state government is planning to allow these project developers to upgrade their technologies.
Maharashtra has 4,442.05 MW installed capacity in the wind energy sector, which forms a bulk of its 6,702.93 MW renewable energy capacity. “In our new grid-connected renewable energy policy, we have allowed the re-powering of existing windmills… to enable their technological upgrade,” said a senior energy department official, adding that this would hike the capacity utilisation factor (CUF) — a measure of efficiency — which was just 20-22% now.
The official added that many of these wind energy projects were around 10-15 years old and, hence, were using outdated technologies. “Re-powering can help set up more efficient windmills and turbines, while also bringing down energy costs for consumers. This may also increase the CUF to 30-35% for higher wind zones, depending on the wind density and height of the project,” he said, adding that the state will facilitate re-powering of installed projects and installation of new capacity.
“If the mast height of windmills is increased, they will be able to tap higher wind velocities and densities. Upgraded turbines will be able to work more at lower wind drafts, thus ensuring efficient wind power generation,” the official explained. Apart from the Centre’s sops, such as accelerated depreciation benefit, to such projects, the state’s policy has also held out incentives of no electricity duty for captive use or wheeling outside the state and deemed open access if permissions are not given in 21 days.
The state’s new and renewable energy policy, which was approved by the cabinet recently, aims at creating 14,400 MW of fresh grid-connected installed capacity in the sector by 2019-20. This includes 7,500 MW from solar energy; wind energy and baggase-based co-generation will contribute 5,000 MW and 1,000 MW, respectively.
Maharashtra accounts for 13,500 MW of India’s assessed renewable energy potential of 89,411 MW, including 9,400 MW from wind. “Of the total wind energy potential, we have already tapped 4,442.05 MW, with another 5,000 MW being targeted through the new policy. However, it is possible that this plan (to allow technological upgrades)… will help increase the assessed capabilities,” the official said.
The official noted that renewable energy management centres were needed because though wind energy was a clean energy source, it was variable and could not be scheduled and forecast. It was generated at night and during monsoons when the power demand is not that high.