A new assessment of wind energy in India has found that the potential for on-shore wind energy deployment is far higher than the official estimates — about 20 times and up to 30 times greater than the current government estimate of 102 gigawatts. This landmark finding may have significant impact on India’s renewable energy strategy as it attempts to cope with a massive and chronic shortage of electricity.
“The main importance of this study, why it’s groundbreaking, is that wind is one of the most cost-effective and mature renewable energy sources commercially available in India, with an installed capacity of 15 GW and rising rapidly,” says Berkeley Lab scientist Amol Phadke, the lead author of the report. “The cost of wind power is now comparable to that from imported coal and natural gas-based plants, and wind can play a significant role in cost effectively addressing energy security and environmental concerns.”
Even if the previously estimated potential of 102 GW is fully developed, wind would provide only about 8 percent of the projected electricity demand in 2022 and 5 percent in 2032. The new Berkeley Lab study has found the total techno-economic wind potential to range from 2,006 GW for 80-meter hub heights (an indication of how high the wind turbine stands above the ground) to 3,121 GW for 120-meter hub heights. Given these new estimates, the availability of wind energy can no longer be considered a constraint for wind to play a major role in India’s electricity future.
Ranjit Bharvirkar, a senior consultant at Itron Inc. and one of the other authors of the study, said part of the motivation for reassessing India’s wind potential came from recent reassessments of wind potential in the United States and China. Both found substantial increases over the previous assessments — a ten-fold jump in China and a 50 percent increase in capacity in the United States and 400 percent by energy. Improved wind technology, including higher efficiency and hub heights, accounted for much of the increase along with more advanced mapping techniques. Continue reading more…