As per official Government data of Ministry of Power, almost 8 crores of rural homes of India have no electricity connection. In Bihar and Zarkhand, Wind power has emerged as the biggest renewable energy source in the world. So far wind turbines of total combined capacity of 25000 MW have been installed in the world, Germany being the highest in the world and India is standing 4th biggest wind power producer in the world. Government of India has estimated the potential of 45000 MW of wind power throughout the country. So far about 3500 MW capacity has been installed in India. All this power is obtained through big wind turbines from 250 KW to 1250 KW capacity. The modern European trend is to make bigger and bigger wind turbines and 2 MW wind turbine has become very common in Europe and soon they will produce 5 MW capacity wind turbines. As in other technology, in wind technology also, Europe is always after giant technology.
So as a follower of European technology, Government of India promotes big wind turbines and it does not recognize the potential of small wind turbines. In fact, there is a huge potentiality of small wind turbines in India. As per my own estimate, roughly 100000 MW power can be produced in India from only small wind turbines up to 10 KW. There are bright prospects to establish about 50 million small wind turbines from 500W to 10KW capacity. Such a huge possibility exists in India but unfortunately small wind turbines are totally neglected by Government of India.
In India, land holding is small. Farms are small. There are about 100 million small farmers in India. A lot of industrial manufacturing is also through tiny and small industries consuming less than 10 KW power. So there is a possibility of small wind turbine in every farm and every small factory wherever there is a wind. So millions of small wind turbines can be installed in small farms of India making farmers self reliant in electricity for their own use for water pumping and other agricultural processing small industries. If small wind turbines are promoted in India, every farmer can supply excess power to the grid and thus power shortage can be avoided. It is not impossible that such excess power will go to the cities and big thermal power stations will be no more required.
Government of India spends about 6 crores (60 million) rupees for installing 1 MW capacity of electricity generation. This is equivalent to Rs. 60000/- per KW or roughly 1100 Euro per KW. Big wind turbines are available at the cost of Euro 1000/- per KW of installed capacity. But in Europe, small wind turbines are installed at the cost of Euro 2000/- per KW. This cost can be substantially decreased in India. As per my estimate, small wind turbines can be cheaper than big wind turbines on the basis of per KW cost. If systematic efforts are made, it is possible to reduce the cost of small wind turbines straight way up to Euro 500/- per KW i.e. half of big wind turbines. As per my own estimate, it is not impossible to reduce it up to Euro 300/- (Rs. 16000/- to 18000/- per KW). This means that investment in small wind turbines on per KW basis will be only 1/3 of investment of big wind turbines. Thus, small wind turbines will be strongly viable throughout the world and India can become biggest supplier of small wind turbines in the world.
But unfortunately, there is total vacuum of wind turbine technology in India. There is no any awareness about the education of wind energy. Aerodynamics is a strange word in India. There is no any course in India for wind energy at any university, any engineering college, polytechnic or even at ITI level. If Government recognizes the importance of small wind turbines, there should be degree and diploma courses and also short term certificate courses of wind energy technology in every university to every ITI. Government should encourage to publish technology books related to wind energy in all the regional languages. Then technology can spread to grass root level and even in villages, many technicians will start understanding and manufacturing small wind turbines. Government has already passed Electricity Act 2003 in favor of renewable energy and distributed generation. But it is not implemented in practice so far. It is highly essential to give free permission to connect small wind turbines with grid power. If this much is done at government level, in one or two decades, India will really become number one in the world in wind energy production and that also only through small wind turbines producing roughly 100000 MW of electricity. But it is most unfortunate that our Government is lacking this vision.
If Government permits grid connection to small wind turbines, then simple induction motors can be used as generators and thus small wind turbine will become extremely cheaper and strongly viable compared to big wind turbines and electricity cost will be far more cheaper than that of thermal power stations. So it is evident that small wind turbines have so much big potential that they may replace big thermal power stations.
Even though Government does not encourage this activity of small wind turbines, above picture can be materialized through peoples initiative. Technology of small wind turbine is not so much difficult. Stand alone wind turbine is rather complicated than grid connected system. But electronics is coming to the help. In a few years, various types of electronic controllers will be devised to control all the parameters of stand alone small wind turbines. The generators for wind energy are basically of 3 different types. Radial flux permanent magnet generator is converted from induction motors which are cheaply available in India. Technology of axial flux permanent magnet generator is completely unknown to India at present. But it is very simple technology. Thanks to Mr. Hugh Piggot of UK and ITDG of UK who have published complete manual on internet to produce axial flux permanent magnet generator. But both these types of generators require neodymium magnets which are not manufactured in India. Hence these generators become costly because of imported costly magnets. But if tiny electromagnet generators are developed, it will be very cheap. Similarly, small auto alternator technology is going to play vital role in drastically cutting the cost of small wind turbine.
There exists highly developed industrial infrastructure in India to manufacture towers, blades, wind rotors and also electronic controllers. So once people recognize the scope of small wind turbines, many engineers and technicians will start producing small wind turbines. As India is poor country and particularly farmers are very poor, small simple technology will better suit. Cloth sails wind rotors and tube and wire type blades are more suitable to Indian condition to reduce the cost of wind turbines. The most scientific air foil sections of blades are made from wood in Europe which last up to 20 years. Scientific wooden blades can be made the cheapest in India. Similarly wooden towers also will be cheaper and suitable for small wind turbines. I feel that very cheap small wind turbines will be a reality in India in a few years. Only constraint is lack of knowledge and technology of small wind turbines. Hugh Piggott’s small book WINDPOWER WORKSHOP is one of the best practical book to understand wind turbine technology in short. But many such cheaper books should be written and published in Hindi & regional languages. Then only this technology can spread up to village technicians.
It is my basic conviction that after about 20 years, electricity will flow in grid lines in reverse direction i.e. from villages to city through distributed generation only by solar, by wind, by bio mass and such renewable devices. It is my basic conviction that small wind turbines up to 10 KW capacity will be extremely cheaper and hence strongly viable. It is my basic conviction that solar cells will be produced on screen printing technology by illiterate women in every home in 20 years time. It is my basic conviction that solar thermal electricity generation will be viable and will be produced in every village. So it is my basic conviction that electricity will be surplus in India in 20 years time and it will be cheapest in the world.
- V. K. DESAI
The Author is a Managing Director of TinyTech Plants, Rajkot.