Energy

R&D in wind power given least importance in government’s new action plan

Development significant as India still has a long way to go in wind power

 
By Sridhar Sekar
Last Updated: Thursday 21 April 2016 | 12:51:48 PM
Credit: Flickr
Credit: Flickr Credit: Flickr

Wind power has not been given the importance that it commands in the government’s new action plan.

On April 19, the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) released its new plan on the thrust areas for Research and Development (R&D) in new and renewable energy sources (RES). The ministry identified 11 major thrust areas for Research, Design and Development.

However, wind energy as a whole has been given less impetus and offshore wind has been restricted to a few discussion points.

This is significant as India has still a long way to go in the field of wind energy. From its current capacity of 25 GW, it has yet to install 35 GW of wind power by 2022 to achieve its target. This is nearly 7 GW of capacity addition per year; which is a huge target, when ICRA, a credit rating agency estimates that the wind sector could see a decline in annual capacity addition from 3.3 GW in FY2016 to 2.5 GW in FY2017.

India’s performance in offshore wind energy is another sorry tale. After much delay, it showed an interest in offshore wind energy for the first time and released an exclusive National Offshore Wind Energy Policy in October 2015. Although it is too early to talk about targets, it is expected that offshore wind energy will contribute marginally to our 2022 renewable energy targets. The offshore wind sector will be a new venture for the country and it is up to the ministry to make the technology available in homes.

Other technologies

Compared to the earlier thrust areas that were declared for the preparation of the 11th Five Year Plan in 2007, the ministry in its new plan, has dropped three areas namely, geothermal, tidal energy and battery-operated vehicles and instead included two new thrust areas, which are renewable energy resource assessment and RES integration.

R&D in solar power has been given more importance than the other technologies, probably as India is aiming to become a world leader in solar power. As per the action plan, the ministry targets to increase solar cell efficiency to 25 per cent by 2022, while the present average efficiency is in the range 12 to 18 per cent. Next to solar, the ministry has focused more on biomass power. Notably, the ministry plans to mandate city diaries to treat their waste and produce biogas.

Mission Innovation

In addition, the action plan has not specified the quantum of funds that will be allocated to each thrust area. It is expected that India will double its investment in clean energy research as it is a member of Mission Innovation, a global initiative for clean energy innovation. India joined Mission Innovation on November 30, 2015 in Paris along with 20 major economies to reinvigorate and accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation with the objective to make clean energy widely affordable.

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