Offshore wind energy in India – Explained, pointwise


The Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set a target of installing 5 GW of offshore wind energy by 2022 and 30 GW by 2030.

India’s capacity to generate electricity from wind reached 39.2 gigawatts (GW) a year in March 2021. The compound annual growth rate for wind generation has been 11.39 percent between 2010 and 2020, and for installed capacity, it has been 8.78 percent.

But, in recent years, the wind energy sector has faced numerous challenges like a multitude of duties and tariffs, slowing economy, etc. Focussing on Offshore wind energy can provide relief to the challenges. Apart from that, offshore wind energy can help India to achieve Energy security.

What is offshore wind energy?

Offshore wind energy refers to the deployment of wind farms inside the water bodies. They utilise the sea winds to generate electricity.

  • These wind farms either use fixed-foundation turbines or floating wind turbines.
    • A fixed-foundation turbine is built in shallow water, whereas a floating wind turbine is built in deeper waters where its foundation is anchored in the seabed.
  • Offshore wind farms must be at least 200 nautical miles from the shore and 50 feet deep in the ocean.
  • Offshore wind turbines produce electricity which is returned to shore through cables buried in the ocean floor. The coastal load centers distribute this electricity based on priority.
Offshore wind energy potential of India

According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), India can generate 127 GW of offshore wind energy with its 7,600 km of coastline. According to the National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE), the total wind energy potential is 302 GW at a 100-meter hub height.

Out of the total estimated potential, more than 95 percent of commercially exploitable resources are located in seven states: Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

Why India needs Offshore Wind Energy?

There is abundance of offshore wind potential in India. Thus they can play a huge role in achieving the desired climate commitment and energy security goals.

In India, where land is limited and the population is increasing, large wind farms positioned over water bodies will be vital.

Benefits of Offshore Wind Energy generation

The benefits of offshore wind parks are numerous if we compare it with the on-shore ones. These are,

  • It is proven that offshore wind turbines are more efficient compared to onshore ones. So, fewer offshore turbines are required to produce the same capacity of energy as compared to onshore ones.
  • Wind speed over water bodies is high and is consistent in direction. As a result, offshore wind farms generate more electricity per installed capacity. Furthermore, the wind flow is not restricted by hills or buildings.
  • As the offshore wind is stronger during the daytime, so it ensures electricity generation when consumer demand is at its highest. In contrast, wind power on land performs better at night when power consumption is lower.
  • Offshore wind farms have a higher capacity utilisation factor (CUF) than onshore wind farms. Therefore, offshore wind power allows for longer operating hours.
    • A wind turbine’s capacity utilisation factor (CUF) is equal to the average output power divided by the maximum power capabilities.
Challenges with offshore wind energy
  • Understanding the technical, regulatory and operational challenges of offshore wind energy is crucial. These include:
    • Local substructure manufacturers, installations vessels and trained workers are lacking in India.
    • Offshore wind turbines require stronger structures and foundations than onshore wind farms. This can cause higher installation costs.
  • Offshore wind tariffs in India are expected to range between Rs 7-9 per unit, compared to Rs 2.8-2.9 per unit for onshore wind. This is due to the following reason,
    • The action of waves and even high winds, particularly during storms or hurricanes, can damage wind turbines. Eventually, offshore wind farms require maintenance that is more costly and difficult to perform.
Suggestions to improve Offshore Wind Energy Development in India
  1. Renewable purchase obligation (RPO): Currently, there are two types of RPOs: solar and non-solar. MNRE can set specific wind RPO targets for each state just like it does for solar.
  2. Lower taxes: The GST Law exempts electricity and power sales from GST. In contrast, wind power generation companies cannot claim input tax credits when they pay GST to purchase goods and/or services for setting up the project.
    The majority of wind farm components need to be imported. If excise duties and GST could be waived, early project development will be more affordable.
  3. Feed-in tariff: Discoms can adopt feed-in tariff (FiT) regulations and make offshore wind power procurement mandatory. FiT can be tailored to suit each offshore wind project. FiT can be used to promote offshore wind power in the early stages of development until it becomes economically viable.
  4. Deemed generation provision: Offshore wind projects need to be protected against curtailment concerns because of the inability of State Load Dispatch Centres (SLDCs) to absorb large quantities of power that may be generated. For this, the offshore wind can be given a “deemed generation provision”.
    • Compensation can be provided from the state or regional unscheduled interchange pool by SLDCs / regional load dispatch centers.
  5. Develop sub-sea substations: The underwater power evacuation and subsea substations could be developed by the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. This would reduce the risk faced by offshore wind farm developers.

SourceDown to Earth

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