The Indian parliament devoted as much as 45 minutes of question time to wind energy. The minister for renewable energy, Krishna S. Kumar, expressed confidence in the government's plan to implement all of India's 20,000 MW potential.

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For the first time in the history of the Indian parliament, as long as 45 minutes of question time was devoted to just one subject -- wind energy. If anyone had been in doubt about the importance of this rapidly expanding business, wind's promotion from the back benches to a major subject of debate in parliament has certainly put it at the centre of the political stage in India. Normally no more than one or two questions are ever allowed on one subject in the hour long parliamentary question time.

The Minister for Renewable Energy, Krishna Kumar, was at the centre of the volley of questions from members of parliament. The star question of the day was put by Dattatraya Bandar who asked if there was a ten year master plan for wind energy, accompanied by an appropriate budget and with a specified target. Kumar pointed out that the 100 MW target of the 8th Plan was far exceeded and had thus been increased to 500 MW. "I would like to assure the Honourable Member that every year our achievement is three times that of the previous year." He informed the House that about 79 wind plant sites had been identified with a potential of 4000 MW. "We have enough sites and entrepreneurs. The problem is securing the land. We will overcome that."

According to the government, total wind potential in India is 20,000 MW, but so far only 8325 MW has been geographically allocated. "Where is the rest," asked Bandar? "Twenty thousand megawatt is a prognosis estimate made on the basis of scientific studies and proven on the basis of surveys." Kumar said a national wind survey was underway to identify the remaining 16,000 MW.

On the lack of wind development activity in the states of Karnataka and Kerala, Kumar replied: "In Karnataka there is a problem of environmental clearance of forests. In Kerala the sites are inaccessible. We are talking to the states about this." On the potential in hilly terrain he said there was a good market for stand alone systems. Questions were also asked about wind potential in the states of Orissa, Rajasthan and West Bengal.

Kumar informed parliament that 17 Indian companies have set up joint ventures with foreign wind companies. "There is a lot of confidence that there will be foreign investment coming in the wind energy sector in India, he said.

Asked about subsidies for farmers wishing to erect wind turbines, the minister replied: "The budget allocation for New Energy Sources is about INR 2.25 billion, only about 1% of the total energy budget. The wind energy programme has already become commercial. There is no need for any subsidy as we are already giving a financial package to the entrepreneurs."

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