What lessons does the wind power market in India hold
for the global market?
India represents huge opportunities for windpower and other renewables,
but not the same opportunities as found in the West. Respect it as a parallel
market, argues Laura Dietz of EcoSpace.
Our ideas about micro and local generation are based on the assumption of a
robust national grid: reliable, maintained,
and designed for minimum transmission
loss. But what if you don’t assume? What’s
left is a fundamentally different landscape
for renewable energy development.
India’s booming wind power development
has the industry’s attention, but not just for
megawatt capacity. The ...view middle of the document...
and company-level cooperation, it says, each
region can benefit from hard-won experience
in the other. “We are looking for horizontal
cooperation with Europe to continue growing”, V. Subramanian, secretary of the Indian
Ministry of new and renewable energy, said at
EIWEN’s January discussions in Brussels and
“Most of the large European wind energy
companies, both manufacturers and developers have a strong interest in the Indian market,” added Bruce Douglas, the European Wind
Energy Association (EWEA)’s chief operating
officer. The view is that growth encourages
growth. Where turbines are installed, and energy generation moves towards wind, there is in
theory benefit to all countries and opportunity
for all companies.
But what does “horizontal cooperation”
mean? The project’s “knowledge transfer” mission assumes that experiences in one region are
not just interesting, but applicable to the other.
There’s no arguing with the scale of
wind energy growth in India. In 2005
installed capacity increased by 48%, overtaking Denmark and becoming the fourth
largest capacity in the world. The pace hasn’t
slackened. While European suppliers look
to shift the production mix towards renewables, Indian suppliers are adding supply
in every category. Capacity is projected to
increase from approximately 140,000 MW
today to 400,000 MW in 2030, with heavy
investment in hydro, nuclear, and natural
gas, as well as the coal that presently supplies more than half of all Indian electricity
1471 0846/07 © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Nor is it a simple matter of buying up
Western-made goods. Indian windpower companies are climbing the ladder for supply not
only domestically, but internationally: Suzlon,
the market leader, wasn’t in the global top ten in
2002. It now has the fifth largest installed capacity of any manufacturer and 6% of global market share. If it succeeds in acquiring REpower
Systems it will be manufacturing in Europe as
well as China and the US. India’s national target
is for at least 10% of all new energy installation
to be from renewable sources by 2012. Even
the fraction of that devoted to windpower represents a huge market opportunity.
But does the Indian experience represent a
new and durable model for renewables? Wind
power is growing rapidly in India and Europe,
but not for the same reasons. To oversimplify it
would be to say that Europe is buying renewable energy, and India is buying energy.
Windpower in Europe is about reducing carbon emissions and protecting security of supply.
No one expects it to remain permanently uneconomic – technology advances and costs change,
for fossil fuels and for carbon credits – but no
one could argue that current growth is based
solely on the expectation of short-term profits.
Investors are counting on a steady and irreversible shift away from fossil fuels. Legislative and