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Indias energy independence in the Wind

India wants to increase its energy independence and is turning to windmills to help the cause.

Windmills already generate power in 13 states, but the government is planning to double installed capacity in the next five years by putting up windmills in 500 new places across the country, helping to reduce India’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Locations are still being determined but with 7,500 kilometres of windy coastline and high altitude hilly areas, there are lots of potential. It’s estimated that India’s coastline could generate some 65,000 megawatts of electricity.

“Offshore and onshore wind put together has got a huge potential in this country, and I believe it can actually contribute significantly to the entire energy portfolio going forward,” said Nayanjyoti Goswami, programme director of the Renewable Energy Programme at the Centre for Science and Environment. “As of now, wind power has contributed 22 gigawatts out of 32 gigawatts of renewable energy installations.”

The windmills will spring up over the next three years, adding 10,000 megawatts of power every year. The government is currently trying to find locations where they can get the maximum energy generation from the windmills. Ideally, the turbines should be at least 100 feet above the ground and the wind speed from six to 35 metres per second.

The government is picking up most of the costs but private firms, like energy giant Suzlon, are helping with technical assessments. “As of now, the country today is facing an energy deficit and going ahead, we need more and more energy because the Modi government is keen on developing India,” said Aakash Jindal, market analyst at Pure Growth Consultancy. “So if we have to develop our country, more and more energy is required for development, for production.”

India’s interest in renewable energy started in the 1990s with wind power but has since expanded to other energy sources like solar and nuclear power. However, 66 per cent of the country’s electricity still comes from coal-burning thermal plants.

World Bank statistics say over 400 million Indians do not have access to electricity. Looking at renewable sources of power – including wind – is a good first step to change that and set India’s energy future on a more sustainable path.

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