The pursuit of Wind energy started in the year of 1986, as the nation realized the immediate limitedness of the nonrenewable energy sources of oil. Since then, other realizations such as the environmental concerns of the coal fueled thermal plants or the large scale upset of ecology by hydroelectric dams have propelled the push for cleaner sources of energy. This initiation brought a lot of government led wind energy projects in India. Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra & Gujrat. These three states together hold more than 60% of the total Indian wind electricity capacity with 31%, 19% and 11.25% respectively. Uttar Pradesh in this regard does not hold even 1% of the total capacity as of March 2015.
Winds are caused by the uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun and the irregularities of the earth's surface. Due to the river of Ganga and Yamuna flowing through central U.P. as shown in the map by the Centre for Wind Energy Technology, India (2012), it makes central U.P. a prime location for wind power generation.
Map: Wind Power Density Map at 80 metres (W/m2)
Source: Centre for Wind Energy Technology, India (2012)
The problems faced by prime sites of wind generation is fairly systemic of the wind power industry. The prime sites in Tamil Nadu, Gujrat and Karnataka have the infrastructure but the technology is outdated. The old infrastructure already exists with its current flow of revenue. The cost of the additional investment in the new technology is higher than the marginal benefits in the flow of income. This makes additional investment financially unviable in Tamil Nadu, Gujrat & Karnataka in the near future. Uttar Pradesh on the other hand provides an advantage to the investor.
This geographical advantage and financial advantage has led the U.P. government to access the potential of harnessing wind power in the state. A total of 11 districts, including some in the Bundelkhand region, Sonbhadra and Mirzapur were shortlisted by a study as potential sites for wind energy development. They were ultimately rejected by C-WET due to non-feasibility of commercial production.
Four wind monitoring stations (WMS) were then set up in the districts of Pilibhit, Sitapur, Shahjahanpur and Lakhimpur by the Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET). As further investigated by C-WET, the potential of commercial wind power generation lies near Sharda-Ghaghra basin, in the district Lakhimpurkheri.
Now that the potential industry sites have been recognized, the Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy Development Agency (UPNEDA) in this regard has drafted a new policy to allow higher participation in the wind energy sector known as "Wind Energy Policy 2015". This policy allows the UPNEDA to be a nodal agency to facilitate the emergence of this sector in U.P. and also acts as the coordinator for single window clearance system.
Since the body does not have committed investors yet, UPNEDA has allowed wind energy-consulting firm, manufacturer or developer associated with the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India to conduct Wind Resource Assessment in the State.
The policy has clarified the mechanism for setting up a wind farm such as the land acquisition for the private companies. Land to set up the wind farm is one of the main obstacle for the private investor. As a solution, the UPNEDA has allowed the use of government land for 30 years or period of project whichever is earlier. This government land is allotted to the selected developer on foot print basis at lease rent of Rs.100per acre, as per MNRE guide lines. In case of privately owned land, the developer shall have to procure the land on his own.
Even though the policies have been set up and there is room for profitable investment, some systemic problems of the wind energy sector such as the continuous emergence of new and improved technology allows private companies to sit out such great opportunities. Also the initial infrastructure costs are very high. In this regard the state needs to set up policies which protect the profits of the initial investor for a longer period of time. Although this might go against encouragement of competition but initial risk takers must be protected to an extent. Till what extent? For this, greater public debate should be encouraged.