As India tries to power its emerging economy, it will look beyond coal to offshore wind energy. And, it will be getting some help from the European Union, which will be coming up with a roadmap and help with financing.
The plan, which falls under the umbrella of the Global Wind Energy Council, focuses on the states of Gujarat in the northwest and Tamil Nadu in the southeast. It will be a four-year process, although the results will include projections up to 2032. The wind council says that the specific objectives are to lay the groundwork for offshore development through resource mapping, policy guidance, and capacity building measures. The stakeholders will also evaluate the infrastructure needs and make suggestions as to how to move the energy from offshore to the urban areas where it's needed.
The India-EU effort is called the Offshore Wind Power Development project, which is supported by a € 4 million contribution from the European Union’s Indo-European Cooperation on Renewable Energy program. India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy will be overseeing the work. Like Europe, India, would like to become less dependent of fossil fuels and to use more renewable energy, says the European Union’s Ambassador Joao Cravinho.
Onshore wind energy is firmly planted in global markets. But offshore wind projects are mainly the domain of Europe, which is the host of roughly 6000 megawatts of capacity that have been installed in the North Sea, Baltic Sea, and Irish Sea. China, though, has made inroads in the offshore wind area, with Japan, Korea and Taiwan in the early stages of development. India has become the latest such nation to make forays.
The main obstacle is the high associated costs. In some cases, the price of offshore wind power is two-three times as high as onshore wind power, says Navigant Consulting. Industry, though, is working on deploying larger wind turbines to achieve better value.
The European Union has been a role model: Its offshore wind deals account for 10 percent of its annual wind energy installations, says the European Wind Energy Association. The goal, it adds, is to increase those levels from 6000 megawatts today to 40 000 by 2020 and 150 000 megawatts by 2030, or 14 percent of the EU’s electricity demand — considered by some experts to be impractical given the today’s cost.