India

India

Indian banks find wind a 'safe bet'

INDIA: The Indian wind industry can see the annual market size reaching 8-10GW in the next couple of years but with this scale of growth, resources will be strained. However, the industry is confident it can cope even if permitting problems continue.

The Indian industry believes it can overcome any skills shortage it faces as the market grows rapidly (pic: Suzlon)
The Indian industry believes it can overcome any skills shortage it faces as the market grows rapidly (pic: Suzlon)

In part one of the series, industry leaders in India said manufacturing capacity in the country could deal with up a market of up to 15GW.

In the second part of the look at India’s burgeoning wind power sector, Windpower Monthly investigates the challenges in terms of human resource requirements, financing and permitting. 

Human Resources

Despite the sudden spurt in market size from 1.7GW in FY18 to about 8GW this fiscal (FY19), the industry seems geared up for the HR challenge.

"A multiple increase in capacity does not mean proportionate increase in human resources. We need to optimise existing resources and intensify training and capacity building.

"At Suzlon, we are training nearly 100 people every month in our in-house training centre to equip them to take on new roles," said Tulsi Tanti, chairman at turbine manufacturer Suzlon Energy.

Ramesh Kymal, CEO of onshore business of Siemens Gamesa India said: "We did not lay off anyone during the lean period but at these volumes, we need specially trained people in certain areas like blade manufacturing and testing.

"But I believe that this is a short-term challenge as the required resources and skill-sets can be developed in three to six months."

Financing

Domestic financing was seen as a low-risk area. Tanti said: "Many big players are replacing debt with the bond market allowing the lenders to lend again to the sector.

"Domestic banks have liquidity and are increasingly finding wind sector a safe bet as it is backed by a 25-year power purchase agreement."

Sunil Jain, CEO of developer Hero Future Energies and president of the Wind Independent Power Producers Association (WIPPA), speaking from the investors side contended: "The current project sizes require a project funding of $200-250 million and big groups like Hero can raise the finance.

"It could be a constraint for small players but there are many new options available including sector-focused lending institutions like PFC (Power Finance Corporation) and the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) that are actively funding projects."  

Permitting

The major challenge relates to grid connectivity allocation and access.

Many developers had reserved substation inter-connection capacities in anticipation of bid wins. The central regulator allowed this reservation on a first come first serve basis.

However, many of the eventual bid winners were near the back of the queue and denied connectivity access.

"The problem was with the old regulation. The ministry of new and renewable energy applied to the central regulator for change of regulation and the regulator recently released a draft regulation allowing bid winners to get priority access," said Jain.

However, he also added, "Even if the players get priority access, the capacity availability is constrained."

Acknowledging this problem Kymal said, "Everyone is going to the same area and the accessing inter-connection capacity is really a challenge.

"Many bidders planned for connectivity at 220KV level but now find that they will have to plan for connectivity at 400KV level as the 220KV capacity is full. While this may not result in a delay but would mean additional costs" 

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