Winds blowing strong for small scale windmills

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Small-windmill makers for households has approximate 30 per cent annual growth

With the windmills steadily increasing their stake in the energy sector, coupled with hike in electricity tariffs and escalating energy consumption, the market of customised small-windmill makers for households has approximate 30 per cent annual growth, and is likely to throw a huge market across the country. Now players in small windmill segment like Indowind Energy Solutions, Supernova Technologies, Unitron Energy Systems, Enercon Energy Solutions are making special efforts to explore new grounds and tap into this developing segment.

As per the industry experts, small windmills segment from its approximately Rs 50,000 crore business in India is expected to increase rapidly, following some changes in the government policy and incentives procedures. The total market size of small windmill segment is estimated at $ 1,000 million across the globe.

World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) president Anil Kane said, “Small segment has not picked up yet what it should have been because of several hurdles in availing the subsidy declared by the government. The standard for subsidy set by government for small windmill manufactures are rigid and need to be tailored-made to suit India’s geographical condition and not be so pedantic.” He said that subsidy must be eradicated to promote this segment. Kane further said, “Out of 1,000 households in India, 50 posses the small windmills and this figures are expected to rise.”

Supernova Technologies based in Vallabh Vidyanagar producing stand-alone small windmills with indigenous materials grew at 50 per cent against the annual 30-40 per cent national growth. Shreelal Jha, technical director SFRCI, department of physics at Sardar Patel University, and consultant at Supernova, said, “Domestic manufactures stand good chance and huge potential as windmills made with international standards doesn’t perform fair in India due to lesser wind availability. We are targeting models specially meant for houses, schools, hospital, hospitality industry, temples and others. Imported windmills function beyond 10 metres per second wind while India has average wind speed of 5.5 metres per second as compared to the European countries,” said Jha who is into this sector for over a decade, learnt small windmills design from Hugh Piggott, pioneer of small-scale windmills.

Jha said that investment in wind energy is one time and much cheaper against the pure solar energy equipment and high recurring maintenance cost, including battery replacement taking place after a span of two to three years.

Pune-based Unitron Energy Systems Private Limited director Ravindranath Palvallu said, “Solar energy is thrice expensive than wind and government including people don’t have proper guidance of windmills and need to have large scale awareness campaigns among professionals—architects, professional bodies’ user associations.” He said that battery supplier should be issued unique VAT exemption to get batteries for renewable energy project at cheaper rate. Also installation and commissioning services tax be excluded to make it affordable to households. The grid-tie in Europe and America has attractive incentives linked to generation, which greatly boosts the micro generation.

Unitron exports 90 per cent of small-scale windmills to Europe, while 10 per cent of it is sold in India.

Dr B Bandhopadyay of Solar Energy Centre, scientific advisor to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) India said, “India is endowed with infrequent wind in comparison to European countries while solar energy is constant throughout the year in the country. Comparison about the optimum source of energy wind and solar cannot be made as it is subjected to geographic location and various other parameters. However, the best model is hybrid model which include windmills and solar panels.”

Darshak Shah, assistant technical director, Gujarat Energy Development Association (GEDA), said that small household windmills is not a possible option because it’s not technically viable and efficient economically. However, the segment of small-scale windmills has huge potential in the near future.

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