Blessed with the third largest wind energy potential in the country, Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd (KREDL) has set out to generate an additional 1.2-lakh-MW of wind energy by exploiting its potential in every taluk. The National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) prepared the country's first 'wind atlas' in 2019. The potential of wind energy was calculated at 120m above ground level. According to the wind atlas, wind blowing across the talukas in Karnataka has the power to generate more than 1. 2-lakh Mw.
V Sunil Kumar, State Energy Minister, said, "Available energy pockets were already allocated to players, so we looked afresh at wind energy. KREDL reached out to NIWE for a taluk wise map. Today, we have the potential to generate another 1.2 lakh MW across forests, cultivable and wasteland. Given the difficulty in acquisition of land, the energy department focused on wasteland, NIWE prepared a fresh atlas with wasteland getting 80% weightage. Taluks in Koppal, Raichur, Tumakuru and Chitradurga have the highest potential. NIWE suggests setting up wind farms in taluks with high capacity utilisation factor (CUF) and a hybrid of solar and wind at taluks with lower CUF."
The taluk wise atlas helped the state government find that Koppal's Kushtagi taluk has the highest potential (2,751Mw) followed by Raichur's Lingasuguru (2,400Mw) and Chitradurga's Challakere (2,096Mw). Elaborating the plans of the government, Kumar said, "In the first phase, we plan to set up 10,000 MW-hybrid parks with help store excess power which can be used when required. Tumakuru, Davanagere, Gadag, Chitradurga, Bagalkot, Haveri and Vijayapura will get these parks,".
"Companies can now commission parks within two years of investment. KREDL and the energy department recently participated in the 'Windergy-2022' conference in Delhi, and Kumar said the government expects at least Rs 60,000 crore investment from there. Once commissioned, these projects will increase Karnataka's installed capacity of renewable energy to 9. 2GW, besides generating more than 12,000 jobs," Kumar said.
However, power generated is not power saved and therefore storage is key to achieving self-sufficiency. Accepting as much Kumar said that Karnataka, which was once power deficit, is now power surplus. The problem is lack of storage. We are mulling making storage facilities mandatory for those investing in the solar sector in future, he added.
While the plans might look promising, the fact remains that wind power, in this, its second push of sorts in India after stealing a lead over solar in its first phase, faces a new set of challenges today. The shift to tenders has not been a good shift for the sector, with the drop in prices squeezing margins. Soon, first world issues linked to wind energy, especially on environmental grounds as well as noise pollution will also raise their heads as turbines get closer to habitated places. The focus should still be on repowering first perhaps, as doing that will offer quicker results possibly.