Textiles wind boom

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A 5 MW wind project in Mudalipalayam, near Tirupur, Coimbatore, in Tamil Nadu -- heart of India's textiles industry -- is the latest example of the success of wind power in the region. The project is for the Tirupur Export Knitwear Industrial Complex (TEKIC). The commercial organisation's S. Rathnasamy sees the project as part of TEKIC's strategy to cut power costs and improve profitability by increasing the competitiveness of its products prior to liberalisation of the Indian textiles market next year.

Key to ensuring lower power costs for TEKIC is a planned in-house power distribution system, with centralised energy metering, monitoring and operating systems and a computerised billing facility for the 180 members that make up TEKIC. Power from the wind farm can be bought for INR 2.70/kWh ($0.059/kWh), compared with INR 4.70/kWh from the state electricity board. The wind plant also qualifies for project financing under the Technology Upgradation Fund (TUF), which will bring down the cost of finance for TEKIC by 5%.

The introduction of TUF has seen Coimbatore's textiles industry take an avid interest in wind power, accelerating the rate of new installations in Tamil Nadu significantly (main story). With energy bills making up 12-15% of production costs for the textile's sector, TUF was launched by the government to increase the Indian industry's competitiveness on the world market.

With TUF shaving 5% from finance costs associated with improvements to technology, textile groups gain immensely if they switch from conventional sources of energy to wind power, says J.N. Malaviya of the Indian Wind Energy Association (IWEA). "Energy costs for some textile units have been reduced to INR1.66 per unit from INR 4.50 when they switch over to wind power."

IWEA says that since TUF's introduction in April 1999, it has stimulated some 240 MW of additional wind power, contributing to India's cumulative total of 1869 MW by the end of March 2004. Tamil Nadu has, it adds, a potential for 4500 MW of wind power with 1000 MW of it in Coimbatore alone; 50% of the Coimbatore potential is already exploited.

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