High hopes for native wind turbine

NEPC India, the only company in India supplying a totally indigenous wind turbine, is riding high on a string of export orders for its 225 kW machine signed with companies in Turkey, Tanzania, Abu Dhabi, Kenya and Kazakhstan and significant development planned at home. Its most recent agreement was signed with a company in Turkey to supply turbines for a 5 MW wind power pilot project. NEPC India's Raj Kumar Khemka says work will start on the project as soon as Turkey has finalised new wind legislation (Windpower Monthly, October 2003).

In Kenya, the company is setting up a 25 MW project in conjunction with a local partner, although payback rates are not yet decided. The Kenyan government hopes to attract renewable energy developers in a bid to help reduce the cost of electricity by 50% and promote industrial growth in the country. Kenyan energy minister Ochillo Ayacko recently told participants at a an Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership workshop, held in Nairobi, that the government is developing a wind resource map. There are barriers to development in the region such as a lack of standardised technologies, while the high level of investment required at present for establishing projects is a further constraint, something NEPC says will be to its advantage.

Meanwhile in Kazakhstan, which has good wind potential in the regions of Djungar Gate and Chilik Corridor, where average annual wind speeds are 7-9 m/s and 5-9 m/s, NEPC has signed a joint venture with a local distribution company for a 100 MW wind farm. The first turbines will be shipped by December this year and the project will be commissioned by 2005, says NEPC.

Back at home in India, Khemka says he expects to install 275 turbines by March 2004. "Small turbines are an advantage in the island of Rameshwaram, for instance, which does not have large patches of land suitable for larger machines." In Muppandal, where land is getting scarce, "our smaller machines are the biggest beneficiary as we can manage to get land in smaller clusters," he claims.

"Our ten year track record, locally available spares and local manpower are our biggest strengths," says Khemka. He adds that by changing to indigenous manufacture it means spares are tropical-resistant, whereas "parts like German gear boxes designed for lower temperatures erode in the hot temperatures of states like Tamil Nadu." The company's factory is geared to manufacture 800 turbines a year.