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GERMAN OFFENSIVE AT DELHI FAIR

At India's Power and Energy '94 fair, held in Delhi in December, no less than seven renewable energy companies from the German state of Schleswig-Holstein secured a high profile by co-sponsoring a workshop on wind power and other renewables as well as by setting up the largest wind technology pavilion at the fair. India promises a further strengthening and improvement of market incentives in a proposed Renewable Energy Act, and is planning to set up a wind turbine testing centre in Madras.

The German state of Schleswig-Holstein stole the show for wind energy at India's Power and Energy '94 fair, held in Delhi in December. Not only did the state co-sponsor a one-day workshop on wind power and other renewable energies from Schleswig Holstein, it also set up the largest wind technology pavilion at the fair. Here, long lines of prospective customers waited patiently to meet representatives from the seven participating companies.

Never before had Schleswig-Holstein sent such a high level delegation to India, but there was no doubt that participants felt it was well worth the effort. "Our talks with the Ministry of Non Conventional Energy Sources have been good. The attitude of the government is certainly towards market liberalisation. The ministry seems serious about promoting wind energy. With our state's experience in wind we hope that we shall be able to contribute to its development in India in a big way in the coming years," said Herbert Haendel of the state's Economic Development Corporation.

Despite the deluge of inquiries from Indian customers, the cautious Germans are not quite concluding deals as yet. They are clearly wary of being snared in the current Indian wind rush following the introduction of a string of market incentives (Windpower Monthly, September 1994). "People here are willing to purchase any kind of wind turbine," commented one member of the German delegation. "The 100% depreciation allowed on wind turbines in their first year -- and the fact that the Indian financial year ends on March 1 -- seems to be the at the root of this enthusiasm. We want to wait and find the right partner."

Among the doubts expressed by wind companies was whether the market stimulation initiatives in India would remain in place long enough to have the desired effect. Though the government has said they will continue until 1997, fears were expressed that this was too short a time span. Projects can take up to two years to get off the ground. "It is only then that we will be in a position to make use of the incentives. If they are withdrawn we will lose out," commented one. Another company stressed that it was looking at India from a long term angle. "If the initiatives continue five years down the road, the Indian wind industry will then be in a position to export its products. This means that the government's initiatives today will be an investment in tomorrow."

Hint of further market stimulation

The German doubts about India's level of commitment to wind are ill-founded, to judge by a workshop address by India's Minister for Renewable Energy, Krishna Kumar. "We're getting the wind in our sails," he said, pointing out that India has identified a potential for 4000 MW of wind power. "My ministry and I believe in a totally revolutionary scenario," he continued, referring to a Renewable Energy Act which would introduce a tax on non-sustainable business. Although he did not elaborate on any details, he said the overall financial package for market stimulation of renewables would be "further strengthened and improved."

Despite the reticence of many of the German delegates, business was nonetheless brisk. Per Lind of wind turbine manufacturer GET-Danwin said he was expecting to sign a joint-venture deal for his wind turbines to be manufactured on licence in India. "We're half Danish and proud of it. The combination of Danish wind technology, which is still the most cost effective, and the strength of German machine power gives us an advantage," he said. The GET-Danwin turbine evolved from the Danish company, Danwin, after its bankruptcy some years ago.

Another wind company present from Schleswig Holstein was Aerodyn Energiesysteme, a small company specialising in wind turbine design. It was in India to offer help and advice to local companies considering wind turbine manufacture, said the company's Matthias Schubert. "At the moment we are recommending companies not to start with their own designs but to proceed with tried and tested technology. Later we envisage a triangular co-operation together with an Indian partner and a German manufacturer." Schubert added: "One aspect of the business I would expect to get into immediately is blades. I think that the Indian industry is strong enough to stand on its own. There has been a good response to blade design using local materials."

Husumer Schiffswerft (HSW) was the only wind turbine manufacturer in the Schleswig-Holstein delegation to already have an Indian partner -- TTG Industries of Madras, in Tamil Nadu. According to Angelo Bargel of Husumer, "Sixty per cent of our turbine parts are now made in India and the quality is satisfactory." The only problem, says Bargel, is getting enough of the sub-contracted parts manufactured to keep pace with spiralling demand. By early 1995 HSW expects to have installed a further 20 of its 250 kW model.

The delegation included wind turbine companies Jacobs Energie, Autoflug, Angewandte Solarenergie and wind turbine test station, Windtest, run by the German wind institute, DEWI. India already has plans to set up its own wind turbine testing centre in Madras, with the help of the Danish national laboratory at Risø. Windtest's Reiner Roper felt his institute also has a part to play. "We're flexible and not state controlled. We would like to work together with Risø on the development of the centre," he said.

At a lunch sponsored by the powerful Confederation of India Industry, Dieter Munn, deputy secretary of state in Schleswig-Holstein, said he hoped the visit by the German delegation would lay a foundation stone for future success and co-operation between the two countries. "What we never use ourselves can never be exported. More than 10% of the wind energy output in Europe is produced in our state. We plan to achieve an installed wind capacity of 1200 MW by the year 2010."

Ajit Gupta, director of the Ministry for Non Conventional Energy Sources (MNES) remarked that the meeting was a significant manifestation of new India and its partnership with the German state. "We have been watching closely the remarkable progress they have made. That's where we take divergent views. We plan to set up an installed capacity of 8000 MW by the year 2010. The state of Tamil Nadu will find its parallel in Schleswig Holstein. With a potential of 5000 MW it is expected to put up 2000 MW within the next ten years."

In an impromptu presentation, Rakesh Bakshi, of Indian wind turbine manufacturer Vestas RRB, talked of his experience and the current state of wind energy in India. "People see India's development in wind energy as another California," he remarked. "But tax breaks are not the reason why wind power is doing so well here. It has taken a decade for us to get off the ground. Though our customers are partly lured by the depreciation available, they are also coming to us for the energy and to prove to their shareholders they are eco-friendly and green."

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