The beginning of the 21st century, however, seems to be a harbinger of hope with a much greater focus on clean energy. As if to signal the new mood, wind capacity was expected to grow to 1270 MW last month, with talk of 149 MW of new additions in the final half of this fiscal year.
The realisable target for the next financial year is set at 300 MW. But this is far below the MNES target of 10,000 MW from renewable sources of energy by 2012. Wind is to provide half. India's total generating capacity now stands at 90,000 MW and its consumption of power per head of population is a low 356 kWh a year.
Among the Indian states that have taken the lead in wind energy are Tamil Nadu in the south and Maharashtra and Gujarat in the west. The projects in these states, however, have been hit by the failure of the State Electricity Boards to pay the producers of wind energy on time. In the case of other states, a renewables policy is still not in place, discouraging investments.
The proposed new national energy policy will solve all these problems, according to MNES minister, M. Kannappan. He promises an orderly growth of wind power from now on. As a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, India is committed to restricting its use of hydrocarbons and to promoting renewables. But if it is to generate 10% of its new power needs from clean sources it will need to add 400-500 MW of wind a year and 500-600 MW from other renewables.
According to the head of Danish wind turbine producer NEG Micon, Torben B Madsen, who visited India recently, a stable policy, long-term power purchasing agreements, reliable grid connection and political goodwill will see India make rapid progress. From over 29 players in wind turbine manufacturing in the mid 1990s, about a dozen companies are actively in business today.