“We explore different business models in India”: Interview with Sany Wind Energy India’s Dr Govind Bhagwatikar

India’s wind energy growth has been impacted over the past few years by a series of issues, including restricted capacity for project development and policy paralysis. The recent modifications in the auction regime are expected to address some of these issues and boost segment growth. Against this backdrop, Dr Govind Bhagwatikar, business head and director, Sany Wind Energy India Private Limited, talks about the recent developments and the future plans of the company. Excerpts…

What is the company’s current portfolio? What are the recent achievements of the company?

Sany Renewable Energy (RE) Co. Limited, our parent company based in Beijing, has developed a large portfolio of wind turbines consisting of 2.X to 8.X MW platforms. The company has wind farms aggregating over 15,000 MW of capacity in operation in Chi­na, the US and Africa. The group rece­n­tly announced the 9.X platform for offshore wind projects as well. Sany RE was founded in 2008 in China. It was officially listed in the STAR Market of the Shanghai Stock Exchange in June 2022. Sany RE’s market share has increased significantly during the last few years. The group is now poised to grow exponentially in new wind markets across the globe.

Sany Wind Energy India launched its 4 MW, IEC S class wind turbine in April 2022. We have set up a wind turbine nacelle and hub assembly factory in the Pune-Chakan industrial area, at the existing factory of our sister company. The blades will be sourced from Sany RE initially. Going forward, we will develop local supply chains in India. The proposed 4 MW model (with a rotor diameter of 168 metres and a hub height of 140 metres) is one of the largest and most efficient wind turbines in its class in India. With lower cut-in and rated wind speeds, the power curve is improvised to garner the maximum generation for the low-medium wind regime in India. This turbine is part of Sany’s 3X-4X platform, which has already been commissioned in China. We are looking forward to registering this turbine mo­del with the Ministry of New and Rene­wable Energy’s Revis­ed List of Models and Manu­factur­ers shortly.

We are at an advanced sta­ge of discussions with re­now­n­ed independent pow­er producers (IPPs) in India for the supply of a sizeable number of 4 MW wind turbine sets. At this stage, our sco­pe is limited to the supply, testing, commissioning, and operations and maintenance (O&M) of wind turbines. However, we will increase our scope of supply and services in India going forward, as per demand from our customers.

What are the key technology trends in the wind segment currently?

The key technology trend in the wind segment in India is migration to larger capacity platforms – from 3 MW to 5 MW – with greater hub heights and rotor diameters. Larger turbines are being preferred by IPPs mainly due to the availability of low-wind sites, scarcity of potential land, and the de­sire to reduce project and installation costs for wind farms. In recent years, Sany RE has continued to increase its investment in technology R&D. This has enabled us to develop high capacity and smarter wind turbines with transformers assembled in the nacelle, longer and lighter blades, and smart O&M. We have been able to develop multiple platforms from 3.X to 9.X with a wi­de combination of rotors and hub heights, suitable for all wind classes. We are also focusing on developing smart wind farms, which will constitute an innovati­ve, integrated and interactive smart operation model.

How have the recent supply ch­ain disruptions impacted the wind sector globally? How has the co­mpany dealt with these is­su­es?

Sany RE has eight state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in mainland China, manufacturing critical turbine components, including blades. Sany supplied wind turbines for 3.11 GW, 3.21 GW and 4 GW of wind farms in 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively. The supply chain for outso­urced components was booked and procured in advance for major projects in China.  However, due to Covid-19, the co­m­mencement of the wind turbine business in India was delayed. Now it is back on tr­ack and we are progressing on every front – wind turbine factory set-up, certification and order books. We are aiming to commission a few wind turbines within this calendar year.

What are the company’s future plans in India?

India is the second-largest wind energy market in Asia and the fourth largest in the world. Hence, it is an important market for Sany RE. We expect that in the next five years Sany Wind Energy India will have a decent installation base across all the prominent states. We are exploring different business models and enhancing our product portfolio gradually. Local manufacturing and supply chains are the top priorities for us to be competitive in the market. Sany is committed to fuelling India’s sustainable growth by contributing significantly to the goal of 140 GW of wind power installations by 2030, and further.