Mumbai: Sterlite Power, which is keen on building the undersea cables that will transmit electricity from India’s first offshore wind farm, off the Gujarat coast, to the national grid, is looking to partner with foreign wind developers to jointly bid for the 1GW project, according to two people close to the development.

The project will be partly funded by the European Union with the support of the ministry of new and renewable energy and the National Institute of Wind Energy.

According to the document inviting expressions of interest, the wind farm is proposed to be located 23-40 km seaward from the Pipavav port, in the Gulf of Khambat, where the average wind speed is 8.2 metre/second.

Both Indian and foreign firms can express interest in the project. Foreign firms need to have experience in installing offshore wind projects of more than 500MW to be eligible to bid, while Indian firms with similar onshore experience can tie up with eligible foreign wind power developers. The document says that the government will sign a 25-year power purchase agreement with the successful bidder.

India, which has an installed onshore wind capacity of about 35GW, has been toying with the idea of building offshore wind farms to expand its wind energy portfolio. The government published a National Offshore Wind Energy Policy which estimated that Gujarat’s coastline has the potential to generate around 106,000MW (106GW) of offshore wind energy, while Tamil Nadu can generate close to 60,000MW (60GW).

Mudit Jain, senior manager at Bridge to India, a renewable energy consultant, believes offshore wind power generation is a concept that still needs to be tested in India. “India is at a state where nothing is known for sure in this sector, be it about regulations, tariffs or the standards that are needed. It is a dicey situation. The government document expects the developer to also take charge of evacuation cost and transmission to the grid. This means the per unit tariff will be as high as Rs8-9," Jain said.

“Over the last few years, wind power tariffs have fallen to as low as Rs2.4kWh. With the Gujarat proposal, the tariff will be definitely more than double that of onshore wind power," said one of the two people quoted above.

The expression of interest document has not given any indication of the tariff.

Sterlite Power is bidding for a similar submarine transmission line in Brazil, with an investment commitment of Rs2,000 crore. The company is keen on expanding its offshore transmission business and is eyeing a project in the North Sea, off the coast of the UK, one of the two people said.

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