With a coastline of about 7,000 kilometres, there is huge scope for an offshore wind energy network in the subcontinent. In recognition, India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has appointed the Chennai-based Centre for Wind Energy Technology to assess the feasibility of setting up offshore wind farms.
Leading Indian companies such as Suzlon and Tata Power have expressed interest in exploring the potential of offshore wind power. But the centre's executive director, S Gomathinayagam, says there is no concrete technical data available on India's offshore wind resources, only indicative information.
Gomathinayagam says the study will get under way as soon as clearance has been given to a 100-metre meteorological mast. This is due early in 2011.
The study will focus on Dhanushkodi, near Rameswaram, a narrow point of land that sticks out about nine kilometres into the sea. "A wind power density of about 350-500 watts per square metre has been recorded (here) and shown good indicative potential for receiving the required high wind speed which can be suitable for offshore wind farms," he says.
The data measurements will include wind speeds and direction, sea temperature, current characteristics and wave patterns. The centre will also look at seabed soil conditions and the composition required for offshore wind turbines. It has invited technical input from leading wind energy companies and research agencies.
Ministry sources say the resource assessment will help India formulate a proper offshore wind policy. The exercise is expected to take around two years, with initial results due after one year.
V Subramanian, chief executive and secretary general of the Indian Wind Energy Association, and former junior minister in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, believes it will take two to three years for an Indian offshore wind market to get under way, and another few years before it is fully established.