A long-awaited bid to deploy resource metering off the Indian state of Tamil Nadu suggests the focus of early offshore wind development has shifted south, according to a consultant who follows the industry closely.
The National Institute for Wind Energy (NIWE) of India has issued a tender for a trio of floating buoy systems to support Lidar in gathering wind and oceanographic data in the Gulf of Mannar in India’s far southeast, with a target completion date of mid-2022.
Tamil Nadu, along with northwestern Gujarat, is one of two Indian states earmarked for the first wave of offshore wind developments in a country that is universally acknowledged to have enormous potential but has seen little action thus far.
Sidharth Jain, CEO of Indian consulting firm MEC, said the details of the gauge buoy bid – which had been delayed for several years due to Covid – revealed a shift in priorities from officials. has planned the development of the field through a number of predefined potential development areas.
The first focus was intended to be on zones A and C further up the Tamil Nadu coast, which is already home to a met-mast, but this has now switched to places farther south on India’s southernmost peninsula.
“Following internal government deliberations, the focus is now firmly on Zone B, followed by Zone E, Zone G, and Zone D.” “It is projected that roughly 5GW capacity would be available in this area, which can be increased to 10GW-plus,” Jain said, adding that the adjustment was likely motivated by military reasons.
According to the procurement document, the water depths in the locations to be measured range from 28 to 51 meters.
Sites that are appealing
The delayed bidding opening, according to Jain, is excellent news for the industry since it allows “mapping of one of the most desirable site locations in India for offshore wind” and signals “the first step to industrial scale development.”
“If offshore wind is to be industrialized, it must begin with the establishment of financially viable projects on a large scale in Tamil Nadu.” The installation of Lidar is critical for assessing the dangers involved, and with it, we should see better clarity on the feasibility of offshore wind projects in India,” Jain added.
Despite the fact that Gujarat has been the focus of early policy actions by the Indian government and already has a Lidar in place, a potential 1GW first project planned for the northern state had stagnated even before Covid due to regulatory uncertainties, and a tender has yet to appear.
Many consider Tamil Nadu to be the more appealing option, owing to early signs of stronger wind resources and the existence of a substantial onshore wind supply chain in Chennai, which includes Siemens Gamesa and Vestas.
Offshore wind has explicit objectives of 5GW in the sea by the end of 2022 and 30GW by 2030. Although the former is unattainable, and offshore wind faces significant barriers to growth – not least its high cost in comparison to ultra-cheap Indian onshore wind and solar – some observers believe it could play an important role in meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s massive 500GW renewables target for the end of the decade.