No offshore wind project has commenced in India: Are we on track for 30 GW by 2030?

Some 195 GW of technological offshore wind potential in India’s EEZ still unharnessed

By Jasleen Bhatti
Published: Friday 10 September 2021

India has planned to provide 24x7 electricity to every home. The International Energy Agency has forecast that the country’s energy demand will increase by six-seven per cent annually over the next decade. It is therefore imperative to decarbonise the energy sector. 

The transition to clean energy can be facilitated by offshore wind. India’s Exclusive Economic Zone has 195 gigawatt (GW) of technological offshore wind potential (112 GW fixed and 83 GW floating), according to a World Bank-ESMAP report. In the past, high capital expenditures (CAPEX) and a lack of government support have been major deterrents.

The National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) estimates 36 GW of offshore potential off the Gujarat coast and 35 GW off the Tamil Nadu coast using mesoscale satellite data. 

In line with the country’s nationally determined contributions, India plans to generate 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 — including five GW of offshore wind energy by 2022 and plans to scale it further to 30 GW by 2030.

Samrat Sengupta, director of Delhi-based non-profit, Centre for Science and Environment said:

India, with its substantive 120-odd GW of offshore wind potential, needs a government-led sectoral development approach, spearheaded by a consortium of large public sector units and industry houses, which will help in the development of supply chains and ancillaries within the country. The high plant load factor as expected from offshore wind is ideal for largescale renewable energy integration in the national grid and also can be well integrated with India’s hydrogen mission.

Offshore wind project status in India

Offshore wind is seen as a response to India’s growing power demand, competition over land availability, and a system balancing technology.

In 2015, the Indian government introduced the National Offshore Wind Energy Policy and the EU-funded First Offshore Wind Project of India or FOWPI 2016-2019, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. The draft Offshore Wind Energy Lease Rules were made available for comment in 2019. 

Gujarat invited an expression of interest (EOI) for India's first offshore wind project of 1 GW in 2018, which attracted nearly 35 major companies. The EOI has not moved forward due to the high CAPEX and lack of government support.

In 2019, India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) applied for €800 million in viability gap funding to help support the construction of India's first 1 GW offshore wind project in Gujarat. To date, India has not begun any offshore wind projects.  

Accelerate offshore wind project development 

Facilitating Offshore Wind in India (FOWIND) studies identified 16 potential zones in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, with a concept design for demonstration projects ranging from 150 to 504 megawatt (MW). Based on 4-10 MW turbine ratings, they found net capacity factors ranging from 26.9-32 per cent in Gujarat and 30-38.1 per cent in Tamil Nadu. 

Even as the final tender for the one GW project at Pipavav in the Gulf of Khambhat, Gujarat, is in the pipeline, industry interest has shifted to the stronger wind resource and geotechnical conditions in Tamil Nadu.

To facilitate offshore wind siting, the MNRE intends to conduct an offshore wind measurement campaign for a minimum of 10 GW of accurate on-site measurements.  

NIWE plans to install five LiDARs (Light Detection and Ranging) by 2021 to gather precise bankable data that will be critical to developing offshore wind projects of up to 7.4 GW indicative installable capacity. 

A tender has already been floated for the design, fabrication, delivery, and installation of support structures for four offshore LiDARs. Interventions such as these are likely to enhance the robustness of estimates of commercially viable offshore wind in India.

As India already has cheaper onshore wind and solar power, the MNRE is seeking feasible cost interventions from stakeholders for offshore wind. Offshore wind Power Purchase Agreement and auction designs are being examined by government authorities.

The MNRE, NIWE and the Danish Energy Agency have entered into a partnership for financial modelling of offshore wind farms in India or FIMOI 2019-2021. 

The way ahead

Offshore wind market potential in India is enormous, but it requires increased government-industry coordination and techno-economic studies to be realised in this decade. Some key recommendations are:

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