State-run oil production and marketing companies are investing in renewable energy projects to cultivate a green image.
According to Tulsi Tanti, chairman and managing director of Suzlon Energy Ltd, a major provider of wind energy systems, a number of oil companies including Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC), Hindustan Petroleum Corp. (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corp. (BPCL) are planning to set up 50-100 megawatt (MW) wind energy projects for their captive use. They may also go for third-party sale of surplus power.
ONGC, for instance, is setting up a 50MW wind farm in Gujarat at Rs250 crore and BPCL is planning to set up wind energy capacity of almost 100MW in phases investing around Rs500 crore.
By investing in non-fossil fuel-based sources of energy, these hydrocarbon companies hope to not only produce cheaper power for captive consumption but also profit from the ability to trade carbon credits with greenhouse gas emitting companies in the developed world.
Greenhouse gases are produced when conventional fuels such as coal, oil and gas are burnt to produce heat. These gases tend to deplete the protective ozone layer around the earth which helps prevent skin cancer causing ultraviolet light amongst others.
BPCL is setting up its first 5MW wind power project in Karnataka. It is planning more such wind farms in other states across India. Following this, the oil marketing and refining major will meet its entire captive requirement of electricity. “It makes good commercial sense. We are a large consumer of power. It is environment friendly and we also get some carbon credits,” says a BPCL spokesperson.
“ONGC has already floated tenders for its proposed 50 MW wind turbines,” says Suzlon’s Tanti. ONGC requires about 50MW for its operations all over Gujarat. The company expects to finalise the successful bidder by July end, says a spokesperson.
“Wind is clean energy, environment friendly with no recurring cost. India has a good potential for wind power generation especially in Gujarat where we have operations,” says an ONGC spokesperson, adding, “we have also applied for carbon credits which will become admissible after installation of the wind turbines.”
Carbon credits are a mechanism by which polluting industries in the developed world can buy the right to pollute from companies in the developing world that use energy-efficient systems to cut the emission of environmentally harmful greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
The greenhouse gas emission targets were set by an international treaty called the Kyoto protocol that sets limits on the amount of polluting gases that every country can release into the atmosphere. Countries, in turn, set quotas for different businesses. Any industry that reduces the carbon emissions beyond what is mandated gets some credits, which can be sold to those who haven’t been able to cut their emissions as required. By imposing a monetary cost on non-compliant businesses, the mechanism seeks to goad companies to turn environment friendly. India is a signatory to the Kyoto treaty.
Wind farms use currents of wind to turn the blades of a turbine to generate electricity. Unlike thermal power plants that burn coal, wind turbines emit no gaseous pollution.
“India ranks fourth in the world in wind energy potential. Given the technological evolution happening in this sector, the growth prospects continue to be very good,” says a KPMG study titled India Energy Outlook.
The country is estimated to have a potential of generating 45,000MW of electricity through wind. The installed wind energy capacity currently is around 6200MWs.