In an interaction with Industry Outlook, Pandu Chillakuru, Head of Winergy India, shares his insights on what are the major factors that will drive the growth of wind energy in India , what are the major challenges that are hindering the expansion of wind energy capacity in India, and what opportunities exist for Indian companies to expand internationally. Pandu is a seasoned finance professional with close to three decades of experience in the industry. He joined Flender in 2022, prior to which he worked across diverse capacities with ZF Group and Cavinkare.
Share your thoughts on the current wind energy landscape in India.
Currently, there are around 44 GW of wind installations in India, with 10 GW being added in the last five years. Although this is not a big number, I consider this a significant achievement considering the wide variety of challenges that we have witnessed lately. Firstly, since wind power per se is intermittent in nature, integrating this intermittent power into a stable grid is very challenging. The second is balancing supply and demand, which is a key aspect of any industry. Also, the cost of wind power as compared to traditional fossil fuels like coal and natural gas is relatively expensive. As a result, every player in the industry is actively involved in coming up with ways to reduce the cost of producing wind energy to the maximum extent possible.
What are the major factors that will drive the growth of wind energy in India over the next five years?
The disposable income of India today is around $2.6 trillion and is expected to hit the $4 trillion mark by the next five years. This indicates that people will have more money and will start spending more on comforts and luxuries such as an air conditioner, which demand more power consumption. Today, the per capita power consumption in India is around 1200 kWh, and this is expected to grow up to 2000 kWh in the near future. Another key aspect that is driving the demand for electric power in India is the EV segment, wherein the number of electric vehicles that are commuting on Indian roads is increasing with each passing day. With the help of government initiatives such as Make in India, industrialization is expected to happen on an even larger scale in the coming years, thus further increasing the demand for power. Given the fact that we can no longer rely on fossil fuels for power generation, wind energy will no doubt be an enabler for meeting the additional power demand that will arise in the near future.
Briefly explain the role of the government and policymakers in supporting and nourishing the wind energy sector in the country.
Previously, the government had promoted wind energy on a large scale through accelerated depreciation, generation-based incentives, and many others. These initiatives by the government have helped the industry immensely and played a significant role in enabling our industry to be in this position today. Additionally, the government has also announced its Renewable Energy Purchase Obligations trajectory going forward, wherein it will be increased from the current 0.81 percent to 5.81 percent by 2027–28. The government is also very serious about its goal to achieve net zero emissions, and this will also help the wind energy sector to a great extent.
Tell us about the major challenges that are hindering the expansion of wind energy capacity in India.
The foremost challenge that is causing a major setback for the expansion of wind energy capacity in our country is land availability and acquisition. The government can play a pivotal role in this regard by identifying suitable locations, streamlining the land acquisition process, and incentivizing land owners who agree to lease out their land for wind energy installations. The second challenge is grid integration and infrastructure, wherein we need to invest heavily in upgrading the grid infrastructure to efficiently handle fluctuations in power generation. Furthermore, grid balancing equipment and energy storage facilities will help us store and counter the intermittent use of wind energy.
How does India's wind industry compare to the global wind energy market, and what opportunities exist for Indian companies to expand internationally?
Currently ranking 4th next to China, the US, and Germany in terms of onshore wind installations, India has the potential to reach up to 210 GW of onshore and 700 GW of offshore wind generation. Many Indian wind energy companies and manufacturers are already exporting wind turbines, components, and expertise to American and European markets. Exploring opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region presents another avenue for expansion.