[Answered]What are the advantages of offshore wind energy projects to onshore projects? What are the challenges for offshore projects in India?

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual Introduction.

Body. Advantages of offshore wind energy projects when compared to onshore project. Various challenges and government initiatives.

Conclusion. Way forward.

Offshore wind power or offshore wind energy is the use of wind farms constructed in water bodies, usually in the ocean on the continental shelf, to harvest wind energy to generate electricity. Offshore wind power includes inshore water areas such as lakes and sheltered coastal areas. India has an estimated 127 GW of offshore wind energy potential, mostly off the coasts of Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Advantages of offshore wind energy projects when compared to onshore projects:

  1. Area availability: Large area is available for setting up large projects. It is the major reason for moving towards offshore projects since there is a lack of suitable wind turbine sites on land.
  2. Wind speed: Wind speeds are considerably higher at sea than onshore locations. Small increases in wind speed yield large increases in energy production- a turbine in a 25 Km/h wind can generate twice as much energy as a turbine in a 20Km/h wind on onshore infrastructure. Also, Wind is less turbulent at sea than over land which results in lower mechanical fatigue load and hence longer lifetime for the turbines.
  3. WindConsistency: Wind speed is more consistent at sea than on land where low winds occur most of the time. At sea, periods of complete calm are extremely rare and short-lived.
  4. Less transmission losses: Offshore wind farms are usually located near to the cities and load centres and thus transmission losses are minimised.
  5. Lesser disputes: There are lesser disputes for land and large space is available which could be capitalised to build windmills.
  6. Larger windmills: Windmills can be built that are larger and taller than their onshore counterparts, allowing for more energy collection. They tend to be far out at sea, meaning they are much less intrusive, allowing for larger farms to be created per square km.
  7. Environmental benefits: Wind farms have a relatively less negative impact on the environment. As any renewable energy source, offshore wind farms do not require the consumption of water to operate properly, and also do not emit any environmental pollutants or greenhouse gasses during its operation.

Few challenges that needs to be addressed:

  1. High capital cost: The foundation and installation cost for offshore projects is much higher compared to that of onshore. Furthermore, the cost in India might be on the higher side because of various factors like absence of installation and support vessels, lack of sub-structure manufacturers, lack of trained manpower etc.
  2. Lack of data: The data required for the calculation of offshore wind potential and identification of suitable sites are not available. Resource map data is crucial because there are particular zones like the shipping lanes, dredging regions, oil exploration areas, exclusive fishing zones, areas with underlying submarine communication cables, and dumping grounds for ammunition, explosives and other hazardous material that have to be considered before finalising the exact potential areas.
  3. Regulatory framework: Currently there is no dedicated regulatory framework available for offshore wind energy on the lines of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) for the promotion of solar energy.
  4. High energy tariff: Offshore windmills are more expensive than onshore ones, power generated from the former could cost around Rs 12 per unit, compared to around Rs 2.43 for onshore wind power, the cheapest source of renewable energy in India today.
  5. Manufacturing of Equipment: Offshore wind farms typically have larger turbines and longer windmill blades. But most firms in India don’t yet make such high-capacity machines, so components will have to be imported. This might affect investor interest.

What are the initiatives taken by the Government?

  1. National Offshore Wind Energy Policy: In 2015, the country released its first National Offshore Wind Energy Policy, detailing the government’s roadmap on offshore wind energy. It involves wind energy mapping of the country to identify high-potential locations to be offered to firms for development through a bidding process.
  2. Offshore wind energy project in Gujarat: The National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) under Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued Expression of Interest (EoI) for first offshore wind energy project of India. The global EoI is for prospective offshore wind energy developers for developing 1000 MW (1 GW) offshore wind energy project in Gulf of Khambhat, off the coast of Gujarat.
  3. Government funds: In offshore wind energy sector, the Government of India has already allocated Rs. 10,000 crores as the initial seed money from clean energy fund, which is basically collected from coal cess.

Government has recognized the importance of offshore wind energy harnessing and therefore, has rolled out a plan to generate 5 GW of power capacity through this mean by 2022. If all the challenges are duly addressed, India could reduce the supply-demand mismatch and be a step closer in providing 24×7 power to all by 2022. In India offshore wind power still remains untapped and given the power deficit in the country this huge potential needs to be tapped.

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