Tamil Nadu beats them all in wind and solar energy

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Tamil Nadu is a world leader when it comes to renewable energy. It is one of the top nine markets globally to have achieved an exceptionally large share of renewable power generation, according to a report by US-based think-tank Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

Tamil  Nadu the only Asian state on the list

Apart from  being India’s number one state for wind energy, Tamil Nadu is also top for rooftop solar, and third for overall solar capacity including large-scale solar farms.

Analysis by the Institute For Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) reveals that as a proportion of its overall electricity generating capacity, the Indian state’s renewable energy puts it among the best countries and states in the world.

The IEEFA studied the top 15 countries or power markets worldwide by their share of wind and solar energy—the percentage of net energy needs met by these sources in these nations. Denmark leads the pack with 53% in 2017, followed by southern Australia and Uruguay.

Tamil Nadu, which gets 14% of its energy needs from renewables, is the only Asian market on the list. This comes at a time when India is embarking on a major transition towards clean energy, targeting 175 gigawatts (1 GW = 1,000 megawatts) by 2022.

Other Indian states following the TN model

At around 10,800 megawatts (MW), Tamil Nadu today leads India in terms of installed renewable energy capacity.

It tops in wind power capacity, with around 7,870 MW as of March 2017, followed by Gujarat (5,429 MW) and Maharashtra (4,752 MW). Tamil Nadu is also India’s oldest power producer in this segment, with most of its wind farms around 25 years old.

In solar, it stands third with 1,697 MW as of June 2017. This includes the world’s second-largest single-site solar farm (648 MW). Andhra Pradesh (2,010 MW) and Rajasthan (1,961 MW) are the front runners.

How Tamil Nadu swayed it

  • The availability of rich wind and solar energy resources.
  • Wide gap between power demand and supply, and robust government policies helped Tamil Nadu take the lead.
  • The coastal state sees heavy wind flows for about six months a year and four more months of moderate flows.
  • According to experts, the state  also receives 300 days of clear sunshine.

Also, around two decades ago, when the renewable energy sector began emerging in India, Tamil Nadu faced a yawning gap between demand and supply of power. The demand came from industries like leather-tanning, textiles, cement, and automotive components.

Industrial units mostly use renewable energy

The prices at which wind power is sold to electricity utilities is decided in an auction process in which firms participate. Till this was introduced in 2016, prices were fixed by state power regulators.

Moreover, most industrial units in Tamil Nadu were allowed to set up their own wind power plants. The textile industry was among the earliest to do this. So, the Tamil Nadu Spinning Mills Association (TASMA) today owns around 3,000 MW of wind farms, nearly 40% of the state’s total capacity. Many of its wind farms are over 20 years old, said K Venkatachalam, TASMA’s chief advisor.

Once solar made inroads, the state witnessed the second wave of renewable. There, again, initially the Tamil Nadu government provided an attractive tariff.

In recent years, the government has also worked to improve its transmission infrastructure, encouraging firms to expand, experts said. Since renewable energy is infirm, managing the fluctuation in power generation is key. Tamil Nadu has begun forecasting the flow so that the grid is ready to handle things. A fair amount of technology has been incorporated in the industry.

WRI predictions

India added 5.5GW of new wind-power capacity in 2017, well ahead of the government’s 4GW target for the year.

At current rates of installation, the World Resources Institute predicts that India is well on track to meet the government’s target of nearly doubling the country’s wind-power capacity to nearly 60GW by 2022.

This would place India, and not just Tamil Nadu, among the elite of the world’s wind energy producers

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