Views of Dinesh Dayanand Jagdale: “We are deeply committed to increasing the quantum of wind in India’s energy mix”

Dinesh Dayanand JagdaleJoint Secretary, Wind and Bio, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
Dinesh Dayanand Jagdale
Joint Secretary, Wind and Bio, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy

India’s wind industry is the most mature of all of its renewable energy technologies, and the country boasts huge potential for developing this energy source. While India’s wind power market has suffered in recent years due to policy inaction as well as transmission and land issues, there have been a slew of policy interventions in recent months aimed at addressing some key bottlenecks in the segment. Meanwhile, hybrids and round-the-clock (RTC) renewable power projects are giving a massive boost to wind power development. The government is also keen to promote the offshore wind space in a big way, and significant development is happening there as well.

At the recent 11th edition of Renewable Watch’s “Wind Power in India” Conference, Dinesh Dayanand Jagdale, Joint Secretary, Wind and Bio, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, spoke on the progress, focus and scope of India’s wind power sector. Excerpts…

We are deeply committed to increasing the quantum of wind in India’s energy mix. Out of over 180 GW of total non-fo­ssil capacity, today we have close to 43 GW of wind power capacity installed. It is true that the capacities have been drying out, the pace at which we were increasing wind power has slow­ed down, and the challenges on ground have increased. However, at this stage, we are looking to take action in consultation with all stakeholders. This is something we have been working on rigorously over the past year.

As we move towards our 2030 agenda of 500 GW of non-fossil-fuel-based energy, and as we increase our vision beyond 2030 to the net zero scenario of 2070, wind power is going to play a very dominant role. Many reports suggest that wind’s role will be slightly greater than solar in the net zero scenario of 2070. Moreover, looking at the 2030 goal of 100 GW of wind energy, we need to install almost 57 GW of capacity from now till 2030. This has enabled us to target a trajectory of 10 GW per annum in the next five ye­ars of bidding. Consequently, by 2030, we will have a minimum of 50 GW of new capacities added, plus another 7-8 GW from those that are already under construction at this time. Planning has been done in such a way that we can bring in onshore capacities of 100 GW under the bidding domain, along with the capacities that will come from the states, the hybrid RTC tenders and the open access business.

Renewable purchase obligations (RPO) are an important aspect. RPOs create demand, and now that demand is being created, we are making RPOs mandatory under the Energy Conser­vation Act. Another aspect of demand creation is the natural preference for wind power in the overall mix, given that wind offers electricity at that time of the day when solar power is not available and the prices are normally very high on the exchange. So discoms are increasingly likely to have a basket of energy resources with the aim to ensure that their overall cost of electricity remains sustainable.

We will also see a new regime of bidding for wi­nd power, which has been incorporated in the first tender from SECI. While implementing this, an element that has helped us is the pooling of renewable energy tariffs. We have created pools of energy baskets. One is for solar, one is for wind, and, probably, a third will be for hybrid. This will be the first tender under the wind pool. Under this, all the discoms across the country buying electricity from the pool will be offered a single rate at any given point of time. If electricity goes into the pool, the weighted average of that pool is the price at which the power will be sold to a discom. Pooling of wind power is going to play a key role, going forward, being an­other tool that is going to help discoms to make faster decisions. The anxiety of the tariffs changing or falling will, thus, be removed.

Moreover, we are taking a state-wise app­roach for tenders. This means that within one tender, there are subsets of sites. For the 1.3 GW tender that is currently under of­fering, we have three states – Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu – with substations at which the evacuation has to take place. This will prevent crowding at one place, with all the other states coming into the domain. We expect this to improve the ease of construction and installation as logistics, equipment and the overall eco­system will expand across different states. This will translate into much more risk-free execution, and may result in shorter project completion timelines.

This is also the first tender that will not be offered for a reverse auction. Instead, it will be carried out in a single stage via enrolment bidding, whereby you are only re­qu­i­red to be technically eligible and your financial enrolment will determine how your L1 will be considered for allocation of the bidding capacities. We have extended the band under which the bids will be awarded to L1 plus 4 per cent. This is an aggressive change, which other technologies such as solar power have not seen yet.

Further, the commercial and industrial (C&I) sector is a space to be watched. The Green Open Access Rules 2022 were the first effort by the government to bring in more clarity in the domain, incentivising the industry to adopt green projects while also creating a framework under which the discoms of a state are mandated to su­pport open access projects. Twelve states have already come out with their own green open access regulations in line with the central government rules. These rules not only create avenues for industries to buy green energy, but also expand the domain of eligibility of the industries for open access. Further, draft guidelines have already been circulated for regulators concerning what the different charges and surcharges should exactly be. These policy measures aim to ensure that industries go more and more green, and their shares of renewable energy in the electricity mix increases beyond what they are today. Huge demand has been witnessed over the last couple of months, with more and more projects being commissioned under the open access mode. Thus, more C&I users are expected to en­ter this space. Our assessment suggests that out of the 500 GW of total capacity to be achieved by 2030, 70-80 GW will come purely from the C&I space. Today we are at almost 30 GW, which leaves tremendous scope for growth in the coming years. This includes the rooftop solar segment as well.

Additionally, repowering is anticipated to have a massive impact, from a single turbine owner to multi/mega-GW project ow­ners. This is a matter that needs a lot of deliberation with states and discoms. To this end, we are working on incorporating standards for repowering through the Bureau of Indian Standards.

In terms of offshore wind, a few models are being worked upon. First, the government has, in principle, agreed to support the first 1 GW wind farm through viability gap funding (VGF). Once the final ap­proval is received, the first tender will be issued for Gujarat, followed by a tender for Tamil Nadu. Moreover, a deeper data survey of Tamil Nadu using LiDAR is underway. This is the first model that will hit Indian shores. Another model entails the leasing of seabed blocks to develop wind farms and sell the power under open access, through bilateral power sale, or on the exchange. This model does not offer VGF. We have imbibed much diligence and consideration from the experiences of countries that pioneered these concepts, and all the learnings have been incorporated.

In the future, RTC supply of renewable energy will become increasingly crucial. This is where battery storage and pumped storage hydropower (PSP) will enter the picture. However, considering the bigger picture of supplying uninterrupted power to specific consumers, wind power will actually play a significant role. It is an economically viable option for meeting such energy demands. The pursuit of RTC po­wer will drive a substantial growth in wind power capacity. Therefore, stakeholders need to concentrate on enhancing operational efficiency and exploring innovative algorithms. These efforts will guarantee the consistent supply of renewable energy to the grid, making it a reliable and sufficient electricity resource.