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Adapting technology to low-wind speed regimes

During the last few decades, countries have shifted their focus to new and renewable energy sources to meet their soaring demands while capping greenhouse gases emissions. After hydropower, wind is their safest bet.

The world today perceives wind power as an environment-friendly technology with the potential of solving problems of both energy and environment. Although the use of windmills by humans dates back to centuries, modern and technologically advanced turbines have altered the energy landscape.

Many low-wind speed regimes, including India, have been adapting latest technologies to tap wind power to plug the demand-supply gap.

India wind regime

Wind density in India is relatively low. Catching the wind requires building special turbines and deploying them in wind-rich sites, which are often located in difficult terrains. Winds here are influenced by strong south-west summer monsoon (April-September) and weaker north-east winter monsoon. The states with high potential are Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

At present, India’s wind energy potential is about 80,000 MW with only 15,000 MW installed on the ground. Yet, the country has marketed itself as a leading nation in wind energy.

While off-shore wind power in India is a costly affair, the on-shore potential sites are still untapped. The government is keen on harnessing the wind potential. It has set up an autonomous R&D institution C-WET, which is perhaps the only research institute in Asia to support the growing wind power sector.

Technology interplay

The actual power generation depends on various factors like the type of machine and the rotor used, besides its design and material. As a wind machine’s efficiency ultimately depends on variations in wind speed, modern turbines are technologically efficient to produce more energy. GE, a leading wind turbine supplier, has been working on these initiatives to harness the wind energy in a better way. The improved materials, designs and innovative controller strategies have allowed for larger rotor blades and overall improvements in efficiency. Globally, GE Turbines generate more than 28 GW of clean, reliable electricity.

GE manufactures wind turbines with rated capacities ranging from 1.5 MW–4.1 MW usable energy. It has over 20,000+ worldwide wind turbine installations comprising more than 30,000+ MW of capacity.
In India, there is a growing need for wind turbines that are easy to maintain and are able to generate power in lower wind speeds and in unsteady conditions.

GE analysed the need and developed Wind Turbines specifically for the Indian conditions. (Class III is for lower wind sites with an average wind speed not to exceed 7.5 m/s). GE’s 1.6 MW turbine is generating clean, reliable electricity in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Moreover, GE’s India-made turbines are set to power a 500-MW project pipeline. Once operational, it could generate enough renewable electricity to power 875,000 average Indian households and displace 700,000 tonnes per year of greenhouse gas emissions.

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