Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Asian wind blows gaily

Wind energy is expected to do better in India with the generation-based incentive (GBI) reinstated in February. The government will also offer low-interest loans for wind projects through the National Clean Energy Fund. India's current installed wind capacity is 26.9 GW, and the nation plans to install 30 GW by 2017. Analysts agree that India is on track to achieve this target - but there is doubt about the target for 2012-2013. Between April and December 2012 India added only 982.5 MW of wind power capacity, less than half the previous year's numbers. Analysts say the required capacity is unlikely to be added before the end of the fiscal year.

Wind is seen as more scalable than solar, given wind's faster project development times, ease of financing and the maturity of the Indian wind sector. But there are also big challenges. Most discoms haven't raised their tariffs for 7-10 years due to political complications and are unable to pay for the power they buy. Another red flag for investors has been that revenue from carbon credits isn't particularly high. Governments in several states have begun issuing notices asking discoms to explain how they are meeting their renewable energy purchase obligations. But the state governments haven't yet begun enforcing penalties, so certificate revenue hasn't yet kicked in, and the bulk of the purchase obligation falls on the discoms.
The wind is also blowing in favour of India’s neighbor. According to new statistics from the China Electricity Council, China’s wind power production actually increased more than coal power production for the first time ever in 2012. Thermal power use, which is predominantly coal, grew by only about 0.3 percent in China during 2012, an addition of roughly 12 terawatt hours (TWh) more electricity. In contrast, wind power production expanded by about 26 TWh. This rapid expansion brings the total amount of wind power production in China to 100 TWh, surpassing China’s 98 TWh of nuclear power. The air quality targets the government set for 2016 will require cutting coal pollution. Already last year the government set new strict standards for coal power emissions, requiring costly investments in filters. This year the government set new water use targets for provinces, which do not give much room for increased use of water for coal use in key provinces.

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