Largest yet for Hong Kong utility -- Gujarat gets another 100 MW

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CLP India, a subsidiary of Hong Kong power utility CLP Holdings, is lining up a 100.8 MW wind farm for Samana in the Jamnagar district of northern Gujarat. To be made up of 126 Enercon India 800 kW turbines, the facility will be the utility's biggest wind plant to date. The $124 million project will be developed in two phases, with construction on the first 50.4 MW to start soon, with completion in June, and the remainder slated to be online by the end of 2008.

The project is the second "of what is anticipated to be a growing portfolio of wind energy projects for CLP India," says the company. Its first Indian wind project -- another 50.4 MW development using Enercon machines -- is being built at Khandke in Maharashtra by Roaring 40s, a joint venture company owned by CLP and Australia's Hydro Tasmania. The wind farm is due online by the end of the year. CLP decided to go it alone on the Samana project because "we found it financially more effective," says CLP India's Mahesh Makhija. "Since we have the same project team, only the entity is different."

The company favours Gujarat above other states for further wind projects in India, a state in which it already operates a 655 MW combined cycle gas-fired power plant through its subsidiary, Gujarat Paguthan Energy Corporation. CLP has identified potential for up to 360 MW of new wind plant in Samana alone and the Gujarat government is expected to release more land for wind development late next year.

Land in Gujarat is not prone to the kind of ownership disputes common in other states, such as Maharashtra where Suzlon projects have been affected, Makhija says (Windpower Monthly, July 2007). At the same time, Gujarat's wind power policy provides investor's with greater long term security when compared to regions like Karnataka, says Makhija. Gujarat's fixed purchase price of INR 3.37 ($0.082/kWh) for 20 years is "reasonable." In Karnataka the price is only known for ten years. And in Gujarat wind has priority status: it is the last generation to be pushed off the grid when the network has to be shut down.

CLP India hopes to announce at least one further 50 MW project soon. "Smaller than 50 MW does not make much sense as far as transaction costs are concerned," says Makhija, adding the company expects its overall wind power investments in India to be limited. "It is difficult for new entrants like us to dominate the space as manufacturers are developers in India," he says. "There are three main companies here you can work with -- Suzlon, Enercon and Vestas." To compete with them as developers "is rather difficult."

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