March 13, 2012

Tamil Nadu still a big draw for wind power developers

The Hindu Business Lines, 13 March 2012

For wind power developers, the first choice still remains Tamil Nadu. Get your evacuation lines in place, we will invest, they say.

Several wind power companies that participated in Renergy 2012, a renewable energy event organised by the Tamilnadu Energy Development Agency, have said that despite having 6,300 MW of wind power capacity – about 40 per cent of the total installed capacity in the country – Tamil Nadu has still a lot of good sites to offer.

The CLP India’s Senior Vice President – Finance, Mr Hemant Joshi, told Business Line today that once the evacuation infrastructure is in place, the company would come back to Tamil Nadu.

The Hong Kong-based CLP India, which is incidentally the largest foreign investor in India’s power sector, has 99 MW of wind assets in Theni, Tamil Nadu. The company wanted to add capacity here, but power evacuation issues have caused the company to wait and watch.

A similar view was expressed by Mr Sunil Jain, Chief Operating Officer, Green Infra, a major player in the renewable energy sector in India. Tamil Nadu is “very, very attractive” he said, noting that there was still a huge potential for putting up wind farms.

Manikaran Power is yet another company which is planning a major push into the renewable energy sector, with plans for 500 MW of wind assets. Choice One: Tamil Nadu – for a 25 MW plant. However, the company’s Executive Director, Mr Pravin Abraham, says that it needs some comfort in terms of transmission.

Manikaran is in talks with Gamesa for purchase of the latter’s machines. Gamesa is said to have met with success in securing an approval from the Tamil Nadu authorities to put up its own sub-stations. Once, Gamesa is able to put up a 400-kVa sub-station, it might be possible to hook it up with the Power Grid Corporation of India’s lines, industry observers say.

In spite of short-term challenges in Tamil Nadu that include evacuation and delays in payment, the State continues to be an attractive proposition for wind farms. This is because the State still has some of the best wind sites. Further, the developers and turbine manufacturers have acquired sites in Tamil Nadu based on resource assessment potential. The progressive regulations of the state including group captive model continues to attract investors and developers for whom Tamil Nadu continues to remain an attractive proposition, says Mr Vineeth Vijayaraghavan, Founder and Editor of Panchabuta, an online renewable energy newsletter.

Mr D.V. Giri, Secretary-General, Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers’ Association, said that Tamil Nadu was good in terms of land acquisition too.

Speaking at a panel discussion at Renergy 2012, both Mr Giri and Mr Sunil Jain of Green Infra, said that land acquisition was the easiest in Rajasthan. They said that while Tamil Nadu was okay, Maharashtra and Karnataka were pretty bad.

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