Indian State’s Move to Tap Wind Energy Flags

by Gopalan on Dec 8 2008 10:34 AM

The move by Goa, the smallest Indian state and a popular tourist destination, has been frustrated in its attempts to wind energy in a big way. Scientists say the wind density in the state is not strong enough to produce grid quality power, though it could be just enough to cater to the power needs of a household or a small office.

Goa’s wind density is not suitable to produce grid quality power on an economic basis through the use of present day wind turbines,” N P S Varde, member secretary, Goa Energy Development Agency (GEDA) said. The wind assessment studies during a two-year period, covering all seasons, have shown that the average wind speeds in the state are weak — barely 8 km per hour during a year as a whole.

“The wind speed requirement is an average of 14 to 15 km per hour,” Varde said, and added, “The present density for grid power is not enough and economical.” GEDA had undertaken assessment studies under the supervision of the Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET), Chennai, at Loliem plateau. Work at another spot at Saligao could not be taken up due to the non-availability of land.

The wind current generally reaches its peak during the three-hour span from 12 pm to 3 pm and also during the periods May-June and October-November, but the draft is weak during the rest of the year in Goa. The big turbines need a powerful draft to move. “Only small turbines below 10 kilowatt can be installed in Goa to cater to very small power needs in a house or to run an irrigation pump,” Varde said. GEDA has installed a small turbine at the women’s hostel to meet the power needs of the Porvorim-based institution.

Goa was the first state to experiment with windmill energy generation in the early nineties. The electricity department had installed two of these at Farmagudi and Canaguinim. “The two windmills were not designed with local weather and wind speed in mind and the blades of the turbines got rusted due to high salinity,” sources said.

GEDA still has no hope and has plans to shift its studies to the hinterland areas to tap this non conventional energy. Next year, it has decided to carry out an assessment to gauge the wind draft in Colvale and a couple of mining areas. “We will chose barren hills at higher locations,” Varde said.

Scientists are hoping that advances in turbine technology will help in the generation of power through wind energy. “When the blades of the turbines will be made of lighter material and less force is needed to turn them, it will help tap wind energy in Goa. Advances have come slowly and hopefully, they will come,” Varde said, writes Paul Fernandes, in Times of India.