But the country lacks a tidal energy policy
The Gujarat government is all set to develop India’s first tidal energy plant. The state government has approved Rs 25 crore for setting up the 50 MW plant at the Gulf of Kutch. It will produce energy from the ocean tides.
The state government signed a MoU with Atlantis Resource Corporation last year to develop the plant. “The proposal was approved in this year’s budget session,” says Rajkumar Raisinghani, senior executive with Gujarat Power Corporation Limited (GPCL). Atlantis Resource Corporation is a UK-based developer of tidal current turbines. “The equipment has been imported and work will start anytime soon. We are awaiting Coastal Regulation Zone clearance from Ministry of Environment and Forests, which is expected soon,” adds Raisinghani.
According to the GPCL officials, if this 50 MW plant is successfully commissioned, its capacity will be increased to 200 MW. As per a study conducted by Atlantis Resource Corporation and the state government two years ago, the Gulf of Kutch has a total potential of 300 MW. The biggest operating tidal station in the world, La Rance in France, generates 240 MW.
According to the estimates of the Indian government, the country has a potential of 8,000 MW of tidal energy. This includes about 7,000 MW in the Gulf of Cambay in Gujarat, 1,200 MW in the Gulf of Kutch and 100 MW in the Gangetic delta in the Sunderbans region of West Bengal.
But despite the huge potential, India has no policy on tidal energy. “A clear policy is very important for developers to have clarity on tariff and commercial development of tidal energy in the country,” says Aditya Venketesh, executive director, Urja Global Limited, an Indian company which works in the field of renewable energy. The government must also provide subsidy to reduce the cost of importing wave technology so that consumers can get the cheapest rate on per unit consumption, he adds. The Gujarat government last year approved a 10 MW tidal energy plant proposed by Urja Global Limited in association with a US-based company Ocean Energy Industries. But no date has been given for starting the project yet.
“The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy should prepare a proper policy on tidal energy since the development of this sector is primarily their responsibility,” says an official of the GPCL, wishing anonymity. No developer will come forward unless policy shows assured benefits, he adds.