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India

India

GROWTH AMONG PROPER LINES

Nearing the close of his first year as the Secretary for Non Conventional Energy Sources, Mr B.R. Prabhakara now has a good feeling for which way the wind is blowing in India. For a man who moved into renewables from a three year stint in the Department of Atomic Energy, his attitude towards renewables is both optimistic and pragmatic. He reveals his thoughts here to Windpower Monthly's correspondent in India, Neelam Mathews.

Neelam Mathews: Do you feel wind power is being developed too hastily and what is your opinion on the guidelines issued by your ministry?

B.R. Prabhakara: Any programme with a big depreciation element will grow fast. Though we realise that tax incentives may have brought in people unrelated to renewables, by and large, the majority of development is from people who need the power. We are keen to see sustained growth in the sector. We feel that the guidelines will serve as a framework for SEBs [State Electricity Boards]. We want to avoid haphazard growth. Even though MNES [Ministry for Non Conventional Energy Sources] only stands on the sidelines, we have to remember this is Indian money being invested. We would like to see preventive action rather than just watch and wait. We want growth along proper lines.

Will legislation be needed to control the current haphazard growth?

We do not feel that there is need for punitive control. The idea is to let investment take place with as few hurdles as possible. It is a healthy sign that the market is buoyant. If at all, there should be legislation to encourage renewables.

Do you fear that some developers might off load second hand wind turbines or equipment onto India?

We are contemplating a study to assess what would be the situation if this happened to us. Wind turbines should not stand as monuments to depreciation. We would like to believe that the extent of the misuse of our incentives, including over-invoicing and non-optimal siting, are just a few stray cases.

What of the plans for a DANIDA aided test centre in Madras?

There have been inherent problems. Creating institutions is not difficult; the problem lies in sustaining them. It has been decided that the test centre will tap the existing infrastructure of TNEB [Tamil Nadu Electricity Board]. We expect the first phase to operate by March 1996. Besides the test centre, there will be an information centre and a resource centre.

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