Tulsi Tanti, Chairman and Managing Director of wind turbine manufacturing company, Suzlon Energy Ltd, is the new Chairman of the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers’ Association. Tanti took over from Sarvesh Kumar, Chief Operating Officer of RRB Ltd, another wind turbine company, at a meeting of the association that was held in Chennai on Wednesday.
Tanti, a doyen of the wind industry in India, takes over the reins of the industry’s biggest association at a time when the wind sector is undergoing a major transition. Until early 2017, the price at which wind energy companies sold electricity to utilities used to be fixed by the respective state electricity regulator. But in February last year, the country’s first wind auctions took place. Energy companies who agreed to sell for less price got to sign long-term power purchase agreements.
Now, while there is no ban on utilities buying power at tariffs fixed by the regulator, none is doing so, because prices determined by competition are cheaper than the fixed prices. The cheapest tariff arrived at so far through auctions is Rs. 2.43 a kWhr; comparatively, the cheapest fixed tariff is Rs. 3.75 a kWhr paid by Karnataka.
As utilities are neither willing to sign agreements on fixed tariffs nor are ready to come out with tenders inviting price quotes, fresh wind power capacity in the country in 2017-18 is expected to be not more than 1,500 MW, in sharp contrast with 5,400 MW in 2016-17.
However, a marked pick-up in installations is expected to happen in 2018-19, as the capacities already auctioned would be set up during that year, and more auctions will take place. Industry sources expect fresh capacity addition of 3,000 MW during the year.
Even that is way below the required level of additions, if the government’s target of 60,000 MW by 2021-22 is to be met. As at the end of November last year, India had 32,747 MW worth of windmills on its soil, which means the country needs to add 6,900 MW each year in the next four years.
The government and the industry are constantly collaborating on how to achieve this. Though there are other associations of the wind industry, such as the Indian Wind Power Association (IWPA), the Wind Independent Power Producers’ Association (WIPPA) and the Indian Wind Energy Association (InWEA), the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers’ Association (IWTMA) has been the most significant voice of the industry.
As the President of this body, apart from holding dialogues with the government over auctions, Tanti is expected to speak up for the industry on issues such as re-powering (or, pulling out old, inefficient wind turbines and putting modern ones in their place), wind-solar hybrid, exports of wind turbines and components, and states meeting their ‘renewable purchase obligations’.