Bangalore: India’s National Aerospace Laboratories, or NAL, has developed a wind turbine that a top scientist said will work with greater efficiency and generate more power in the country’s low-speed wind and dusty conditions.
The enhanced efficiency “is proven in simulations, and we want to prove it in the field,” said J.J. Isaac, head of the propulsion and wind energy division at NAL, the aerospace arm of India’s largest state-funded research agency, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, or CSIR.
NAL will test these turbines—developed in collaboration with Chennai-based Structural Engineering Research Centre and industrial partner Sangeeth Group—at a wind farm in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, in August. The tests would be done for a month during the peak wind season in the region that is close to the Western Ghats.
Clean energy: A Suzlon Energy wind turbine in Maharashtra. The average wind speeds in India are around 5.6-7.5m per second. (Photo: Santosh Verma/Bloomberg)
NAL said new turbines are at least 10% more efficient for average Indian wind speeds that are nearly one-third lower than average wind velocity in Europe. Average wind speeds in India are around 5.6-7.5m per second, according to the Centre for Wind Energy Technology, an Indian government unit that is helping NAL on the project. Wind velocity in Europe is around 11.9m per second.
Lower speeds affect wind power output, unless a turbine is tuned to efficiently generate electricity at these speeds. NAL says a 500KW or smaller turbine is ideal for local conditions and has commissioned a study to look for potential wind farm zones to generate power from such machines.
NAL, which is building the windmill in Coimbatore under CSIR’s new millenium Indian technology leadership initiative, said the two blades for its windmill are designed to ensure dust does not stick on them and thus, reduce maintainence.
“Dust erodes (turbine) efficiency. You need to design the blades to suit the conditions,” said A.R. Upadhya, director of NAL.
India’s installed capacity for wind power generation is 8,757.2MW, only a fifth of the potential 45,000MW, according to the Indian Wind Energy Association, or IWEA.
Analysts say that there is no ideal size of wind mills for Indian conditions and manufacturers take a call depending on the local terrain to install the best turbine.
“Suitability is determined on techno-commercial and logistic considerations,” said Manish K. Singh, secretary of IWEA, a not-for-profit body that promotes wind power in India.
Over 10 manufacturers that include Suzlon Energy Ltd, GE Wind Energy India Ltd, and Vestas Wind Technology India Pvt. Ltd, a unit of Denmark’s Vestas Group, make wind turbines in India for both local and overseas markets.
“For conditions in India, there are enough designs in turbines that are efficient to generate power,” said V.D. Kalani, honorary secretary of the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association.
Suzlon, the world’s fifth largest wind turbine maker, did not immediately respond to an email for comment.