Ex-JV partner's control of O&M hits 3GW of Enercon turbines

INDIA: Close to 3GW of old Enercon machines in the Indian states of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan are in a state of disrepair due to a lack of spare components and the refusal of the manufacturer's former business partner to relinquish service contracts.

Popular… Enercon’s 800kW turbine was a bestseller in India until the joint venture’s acrimonious split
Popular… Enercon’s 800kW turbine was a bestseller in India until the joint venture’s acrimonious split

When German manufacturer Enercon entered into a joint venture with domestic firm Mehra Group in late 1994, it was mainly offering 800kW machines in the Indian market, which were in huge demand at the time and earned Enercon India Limited (EIL) a top-three slot in the country.

However, there was a dispute between the partners in 2007, when the Indian partner accused Enercon of denying it technology and components and Enercon, in turn, claimed EIL was stealing technology and diverting funds. The standoff resulted in a protracted legal battle that culminated in Enercon terminating the licensing agreement and effectively disowning the 800kW machines produced by the joint venture. EIL subsequently changed its name to Wind World (India).

After Enercon re-entered the Indian market last year, the German firm signed non-exclusive agreements with three Indian partners — Renom Energy Services, Kintech Synergy and Powercon Ventures India — to provide operations and maintenance (O&M) services to more than 6,700 turbines adding up to an installed capacity of 4.8GW. Under the agreement, Enercon was to deliver spare equipment to these providers and offer comprehensive technical support for the 800kW machines and training for engineers.

Locked in

However, this has not helped generators with Enercon turbines in the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, where close to 3GW of machines are not getting servicing and machine components from Wind World (India), which still retains the O&M contracts for these machines.

According to some operators Windpower Monthly spoke to, Wind World (India), which recently entered insolvency proceedings, has been charging project owners escalated O&M costs and not allowing them to switch service providers by leveraging its control over the pooling substations in these states.  

In Karnataka and Rajasthan, the main wind-farm pooling substations remain under the control of the developers. In Maharashtra, the substations are expected to be transferred to the utility eventually, but the process is ongoing and many substations are still controlled by developers.

In Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, which have a high number of old Enercon turbines, the pooling substations are transferred to the utility and many generators in these states have already shifted their service contracts to private O&M suppliers.

Not being able to keep their turbines in working order poses the biggest problems for small generators. Many are left with no option but to sell their existing assets to big players, such as corporate groups and independent power producers, who seem to find it easier to source requisite services and connectivity.

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