Reassessing Wind Potential Estimates for India: Economic and Policy Implications
Recent studies provide compelling reasons why wind potential estimates in India need to be reassessed. First, a study published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that was conducted by experts from Harvard University and the Technical Research Center of Finland and a study by experts from The Energy Resources Institute (India) estimate that on-shore wind potential in India exceeds 1,000 GW (estimated at hub heights greater than, or equal to, 80 meters). In sharp contrast, the official wind energy potential estimate by the Center for Wind Energy Technologies (CWET) used by the Indian government in its policy-making process is only 49 GW (estimated at a hub height of 50 meters). Second, recent reassessments conducted in various countries, such as the U.S. and China, have found much higher wind energy potential due to improvements in technology resulting in higher efficiency, hub heights, and sizes of wind turbines. Third, systematic analysis based on geographic information system data now offers an accurate method for identifying land with wind power development potential. The potential estimate by CWET presented in the 2010 Indian Wind Atlas assumes, without explicitly stating the underlying rationale, that just two percent of the land well-suited to wind energy is available for development. All three reasons taken together suggest that reassessment of the wind resource in India could also reveal a substantially higher potential than previously estimated and could potentially have major implications for Indian power sector policy. The authors of this study assess the developable on-shore wind potential in India at three different hub heights and under two sensitivity scenarios—one without any farmland and one with all farmland included. Our estimates are more than 15 times the current official estimate of wind energy potential in India, estimated at 50-meter hub height, and are about one-tenth of the official estimate of the wind energy potential in the U.S.