New Delhi: The environment ministry has given its approval to a wind measurement project that would involve setting up an offshore data collection platform in the Gulf of Kutch, near the Gujarat coast, as part of efforts to ensure that India harnesses the enormous wind power potential along its 7,600km coastline.

In September 2015, the Union cabinet had cleared the National Offshore Wind Energy Policy, which involves wind energy mapping of the country to identify high- potential locations to be offered to firms for development through a bidding process.

The policy also allows interested private agencies to get involved in obtaining site-specific wind speeds and met-ocean data for feasibility studies for the development of offshore projects.

In line with the policy, the latest proposal cleared by an expert panel of the ministry of environment, forests and climate change, envisages the setting up of the Gulf of Kutch data collection platform.

The project site falls under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and required CRZ clearance under the CRZ Notification, 2011, from the ministry of environment.

The ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for projects related to infrastructure development and CRZ considered the project at a meeting on 16 and 17 January.

According to the minutes of the EAC meeting, which were reviewed by Mint, the wind measurement project is for survey, investigation, exploration, data acquisition and other related technical studies in territorial waters off the Jhakhau coast in Kutch district.

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“The data collection platform shall consist of instruments for collecting different 25 parameters required for wind potential studies and design of structure for wind turbine," noted the EAC.

National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE), under the Union ministry of new and renewable energy, is the nodal agency for ensuring single-window clearance from all regulatory and security agencies before the project is made operational.

The EAC recommended the project for grant of CRZ clearance but stipulated that the project shall be taken up only after necessary clearances/permissions are obtained from the defence ministry, Union home ministry, Gujarat Maritime Board and other authorities.

“The offshore structure shall be decommissioned after two years of the desired data collection, ensuring adequate safety measures as employed during the construction phase with the minimal impact on noise and marine environment," the EAC added.

The project, worth Rs4 crore, has been proposed by Samiran Udaipur Wind Farm Ltd.

Samiran Udaipur Wind Farm intends to set it up along with technical support from National Institute of Ocean Technology.

The site, in the Gulf of Kutch of Gujarat, has been chosen after Gujarat and Tamil Nadu were identified by the government as states with a high potential for off-shore wind farms.

As per official estimates, the Gujarat coastline has the potential to generate around 106,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind energy and Tamil Nadu about 60,000MW.

The push for offshore wind farms is also significant as wind has been one of the main pillars of India’s renewable power so far. It is considered one of the most developed, cost-effective and proven renewable energy technologies to meet energy demands in a sustainable manner.

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