The Renewable Asia Pacific '95 (RAP '95) conference and exhibition dealt with applications and commercialisation of renewables in Asia and devoted one whole day to India alone. India wants to become a model for other developing countries regarding renewables projects and many manufacturers were ready to offer their products. Manufacturing of blades in India was discussed.

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The number of people attending renewable energy conferences in India is growing at a rate directly proportional to the increase in numbers of joint ventures and commissioned wind energy projects. So quipped the outgoing secretary of the Ministry of Non Conventional Energy Sources (MNES), Mr LM Menezes, at the opening session of the Renewable Asia Pacific '95 (RAP '95) conference, held January 23-25. "In the last 15 months, eight national and sub-national conferences on wind energy have been held in India. Nineteen-ninety-five is the Year of Renewables here," he said.

In attendance at RAP '95 were national and international experts as well as participants from government organisations. The three day conference dealt with applications and commercialisation of renewables in Asia, while the third day was entirely devoted to an Indian focus.

MNES minister, S Krishna Kumar, was as enthusiastic as ever. "Renewable energy, efficiency and energy consciousness should go together. We want to remove all obstacles to the development of the industry. We would like to see India as a manufacturing base, a springboard for developing countries. India is open to business. Reforms are here to stay," he stressed. "There is excitement in the air as India moves towards a new phase in global unity in a sustainable world."

Cassy Kutzman, project manager and organiser of the event, added: "This has been a rewarding experience. It has been refreshing to work with such committed people." The main sponsors of the event were the Indian Renewable Energy Development Association (IREDA), Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI) and MNES.

Ajit Gupta, director at MNES, referred to a New Strategy and Action Plan of 1993 that aimed at creating a "favourable policy environment." He talked about the redefined goals for renewables which now have a new target of 2000 MW by 1997 -- 500 MW of which is to come from wind. In addition to major initiatives already in place, he said supplementary guidelines have been circulated to the states to stimulate a 5% annual growth rate in the use of renewables. Suggestions have also been made for a system of guaranteed payment for the power sold. "It is hoped that this will lead to assured returns on investments by developers and investors," said Gupta. He announced that the total annual turnover in terms of goods and services of the renewable energy sector in India has already reached half a billion dollars.

It will come as a relief to many planning long term strategies in the wind business to know that the government is finally talking about setting broad goals in a 15 year Perspective Plan to accelerate the development of a stable industry. According to Gupta, "If a goal of 10 GW renewable electric capacity is set for the year 2010, this would amount to a 5% share in the total anticipated capacity, involving investments of nearly $15 billion. It is within such a perspective that plans and policy need to be developed, and actions initiated towards realisation of goals."

Customers and exhibitors

There were many new customers shopping at the expo. Interestingly, though, the bigger wind industry players, RRB Vestas and NEPC Micon, were only invisibly present on the exhibition floor. It appears they are so inundated with orders, that attending yet another wind event was deemed unnecessary.

Meanwhile, Enercon of German used the expo as a launch pad to introduce its gearless E-30 wind turbine to India. Jami Hossain of Enercon India Ltd said: "Slight technical modifications of the E-30 make it possible to meet load demands even in low wind. In India the machine can solve two major problems associated with integration of wind technology with the grid. At high levels of wind penetration in the system, the problem of rejection is eliminated because during periods of high wind and low load, we have the option of a storing device. Also, the new features add reliability to wind farms, which a utility can count on during periods of power deficit."

Enercon expects that the simple design of the machine will eliminate operation and maintenance problems, especially those associated with the gearbox in other turbines. The Enercon has no gearbox. According to Enercon India director, Sameer Mehra, Enercon is also offering the highest tower in India, at 50 metres. This is possible because the tower's modular construction allows it to be erected without a crane, always in short supply in India. Enercon says it hopes to have a 1 MW wind farm in Lamba operational by this month, using its gearless 230 kW machines.

Minimum of 150 MW

Renewable Energy Systems Ltd (RESL) of Hyderabad in the state of Andhra Pradesh has been in the field of photo-voltaics for a decade and is now diversifying into wind energy. It has a joint-venture agreement with FloWind Corporation of the United States and its partner, Advanced Wind Turbines. RESL says it "expects to roll out AWT 26/27 wind turbines by May" at its 50,000 sq ft manufacturing plant being put up near Hyderabad. Explains Harold Koegler of FloWind: "AWT turbines are the only machines to be covered with a year's insurance on performance and availability warranties." According RESL's managing director, Mr Anjaneyulu, "Plans for the first 50 MW in 1995-96 are already being implemented in Andhra Pradesh." Koegler says the company plans to put up a minimum of 150 MW next year.

From the Netherlands, NedWind was prominently promoting its joint venture with Indian Weizmann Industries in the financial sector, called Windia Power Ltd. The Windia factory is being set up 200 kilometres north of Bombay. The company already has an order for a 3 MW project in Ramagiri in Andhra Pradesh. Five 500 kW machines and two 250 kW machines will be installed by this month. According to Windia's Mr Parvatinathan, the company will install 20 MW in the first year -- and double that the next year.

From US wind measurement specialist, Secondwind, Chuck Wooster sees India as a good potential market for the company's Nomad wind data logger. He explains, "Nomad is perfect for wind energy surveys of large areas in India. It is inexpensive enough for single-height studies and powerful enough for multi-level monitoring." Secondwind is working in India with the industrial giant, Batliboi.

Blade ping pong.

The establishment of a manufacturing plant for rotor blades in India by Denmark's LM Glasfiber could mark the start of a whole new era for the Indian wind industry. Until now blades have always been imported, although other large parts are made locally. But the Indian government's present policy of allowing duty-free import of blades could prove a problem. Says one developer: "Why buy Indian when we can get Danish blades at the same price?"

LM's Troels Thomsen does not see this as a barrier to sales from the Bangalore factory. "We hope that the MNES duty-exemption problem will be solved in such a way that it will be fair to the indigenous product," he says. LM's Indian factory will start by making some 300 sets of blades a year for 225 kW turbines and will initially train 120 staff. The issue of testing and certification of the blades is still ping-ponging to and fro between LM and the Indian authorities. "Once equipment has been certified, it is a waste of time for it go through the same series of tests in another country. We see it as double work," says Thomsen. "We will make sure that production in Indian closely follows our product descriptions."

A second European blade maker, Polymarin of the Netherlands, was also at the Delhi expo "to feel the market." The company was looking for partners for joint ventures and technology transfer and had met "at least 30-40 interested parties."

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