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India

India

New policy clears the way for large-scale repowering

INDIA: The Indian ministry of new and renewable energy has opened the door for all the country's sub-1MW turbines to be eligible for repowering.

Placeholders… Many older projects have small turbines taking up sites with the best wind resources
Placeholders… Many older projects have small turbines taking up sites with the best wind resources

Repowered projects now have access to the same fiscal and financial incentives as new projects. India's renewable energy development agency is also providing an additional interest rate rebate of 0.25% above that available for new projects.

According to the policy document, there is at least 3GW of capacity available for repowering across the country.

Wind-power development in India started in the mid-1990s, and the early years were dominated by turbines of less than 500kW. Many of these installations have suffered from recurring breakdowns and failures, effectively stranding the country's best wind-resource sites.

Obstacles

Past attempts by wind-farm owners to repower had been constrained by multiple issues related to applicability of tariffs, the revision or termination of power purchase agreements, and transmission-augmentation investments.

The repowering policy has addressed many of these implementation-related issues. It has clarified that for repowering projects, additional generation (over and above the average of three years' generation from the old project) shall be procured at the feed-in-tariff applicable at the time of commissioning.

The policy also shifts the onus of investing in transmission upgrades beyond the substation to the state utility. It has further allowed owners of repowering projects to forego PPA obligations during the project commissioning period, even allowing captive generators to procure equivalent power from the state utility.

In addition, the policy directs the state agencies to facilitate procurement of additional footprint land and relax micro-siting criteria for all repowering projects.

The Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association said the incentives would help boost investment in the wind-energy sector. Welcoming the new policy, the Indian Wind Power Association pointed out that in Tamil Nadu alone, about 2GW of capacity could be repowered to support an additional 1.5GW.

Overall, there is a general consensus that the policy has addressed the key challenges to upgrading the hardware on these prime sites.

However, with almost all the assessed repowering potential concentrated in the states of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, on-ground action will largely depend on the level of collaborative efforts from wind-power developers and the state utilities.

Although it is too early to assess the impact of the policy, there seems little doubt that it has provided the much-needed traction for wind repowering in India.

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