Several wind power projects have missed their completion deadlines. Wind energy companies (developers) blame the delay mainly on non-availability of land.
Ever since wind power projects began in February 2017 to be awarded through auctions to energy companies on the basis of who offers to sell power at the lowest prices, there have been 16 successful auctions so far (not counting the cancelled ones). Eighty projects, worth 14,412.64 MW of capacity have been awarded to wind developers.
Each auction has its own deadline for completion of projects awarded under it. By now, 5,087 MW of projects should have come up, against which the achievement is 1,707 MW.
Of the 14,412 MW awarded, 9,370 MW were through eight successful auctions of SECI, a government of India-owned company meant to foster development of renewable energy projects in the country. SECI buys power from wind (and solar) companies and sells the power to electricity distribution companies (discoms) in non-windy States, under back-to-back agreements with the discoms.
Under the SECI auctions, a developer could put up his project at a place of his choice – the company would get paid the agreed per-kWhr tariff for the electricity delivered at the agreed sub-station.
As the competitively-determined tariffs squeezed margins, most developers opted to put up their projects in the two windiest States of India – Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. Out of the 31 projects awarded under the first five SECI auctions, (for which developers have disclosed the States of choice), 21 opted for Gujarat, 9 Tamil Nadu and one Karnataka.
An overwhelmed Gujarat government felt it was not all right that 21 projects worth 4,975 MW should take up its windiest sites and all the cheap power should go to other States. So, it put the stopper on allocation of land, wanting to reserve the lands for itself. The projects got stuck.
BusinessLine learns that a high-level meeting between Gujarat and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy took place in Delhi on Wednesday to find a solution to this problem.
In Tamil Nadu too, land issues have cropped up. The State is refusing to let wind turbines be put on agricultural lands. Many in the industry believe there is more to it than meets the eye.
The deadlines for the other projects are closing in. As much as 2,950 MW of SECI IV and V and 500 MW of Maharashtra are scheduled to come up in calender 2020. If the land issue doesn’t get sorted out, there is no hope in hell that they would.
Nor can the developers move to elsewhere because other States have fewer wind resources, which will affect power generation and hence viability.