On 27th August, MEC Intelligence (MEC+) hosted a Virtual summit with Wind Insider on ‘India Offshore Wind: Policy, Regulatory and Market Outlook. In this session, we discussed the various developments in the last 12 months related to OW and likely pathways to kickstart this new industry. We were joined by key stakeholders across the OW value chain including government stakeholders, technology experts, OW veterans, leading developers and OW contractors.
Offshore wind has undergone a series of starts-stops in India. The most recent development has been the announcement of Expression of Interest (EOI) for 1 GW project in Gujarat, laying out the national target of 5 GW by 2022 and 30 GW by 2030. Two significant points have emerged since then:
- A large number of global supply chain and international players are interested in OW in India.
- There is a need for subsidy and a roadmap of the pipeline to kickstart the industry and then put it on a lower cost trajectory.
However, there has been a loss of momentum in the discussion in the last year. The objective of this summit is to assess the OW situation at hand and come up with the path for stakeholders to plan.
As presented by MEC+ in the session, there are five commercial considerations for India:
- Global markets are accelerating, and India can leverage global scale:
Tendering activity has accelerated since India announced OW vision and new geographies have tendered capacity with aim of import substitution, 100% electrification, or solving infrastructure issues. Price trajectory in consequent tenders globally has demonstrated a sharp decline as the supply chain scaled and standardized, and technology advanced, all of which can be leveraged by India.
- Levers exist in the market to reduce cost:
CAPEX and OPEX for OW add up to approx. USD 5 million per MW. Half of this is driven by technology (turbine, foundations, and site development) and the other half by infrastructure (offshore grid, ports, electrical and cabling, inland transmission charges). To reduce the technology cost, we need standardization, scaling, clustering, and tier 1 resource; and to reduce the cost of infrastructure, the government needs to provide subsidies and it can take responsibility for building grid, port, and waive off ISTS charges.
- Demand is growing in India and constraints are expected to emerge:
Demand will exceed supply in the coming future due to the land-based grid constraints and the inability to finance coal projects going forward. OW can be considered as a feasible option to solve this supply-demand problem.
- The overall potential for OW is high in India and concentrated in two geographies:
India has a huge coastline and a lot of possibilities exist for the sites of OW here. However right now, the activity is concentrated in two areas, Gujarat (GJ) and Tamil Nadu (TN). According to the latest estimates, 67 GW of OW potential exists off the coast of these two states combined.
- Synergies exist across the OW supply chain with existing onshore and O&G capabilities; however, investments are needed to get deployment-ready:
India has access to a large supply chain within the onshore wind and some projects in offshore O&G, where synergies exist. However, despite the synergies, capabilities need to be upgraded for larger OW structures, especially within ports and vessels which are missing.
Dr. Rajesh Katyal from NIWE highlighted that from the last EOI announcement, the focus of the authority has been to map resource and site conditions for making OW ready for deployment in India. He presented the status of resource mapping and geotechnical investigations in sites in GJ and TN and the options being explored from here on.
Regarding GJ sites:
- India has installed one LIDAR for the assessment of Offshore wind resource in GJ. The government is planning two more LIDARs at the location of zone A and zone B, which will be installed by March 2021.
- NIWE has already performed navigational surveys, rapid environmental impact assessment study, geophysical studies, sediment sampling analysis, borehole studies, and tide gauge measurement for the proposed 1 GW project on GJ and they have secured all the clearances as well.
- Oceanographic surveys and met ocean surveys are remaining for which tender has been put up on the website.
- Port Pipavav in GJ is ready and an initial project of up to 250 MW can be taken up from this port in a phased manner.
Regarding TN sites:
- The government is planning to give priority to TN to kick off this sector since it has a better resource than GJ. NIWE is planning to put up three LIDARS in TN by Sep 2021 but MNRE wants to expedite it to March 2021. Since NIWE has been facing some issues with the local community regarding the livelihood, it might take some time to put up these LIDARs in TN.
- Tuticorin Port in TN is much smaller than the Pipavav port in GJ, hence readiness of the Tuticorin port is less.
Options being explored by the Government are:
- Demo projects: If the proposed 1 GW OW project in GJ gets delayed due to commercial considerations, then there is a tentative plan to put up a technology demo project of about 200-250 KW modules for 4 numbers. All the studies have been completed for this site and requisite clearances have already been taken for Phase 1, hence this can be readily installed.
On similar grounds, the TN government is exploring the possibility to set up demo projects at the Offshore National Test research station (near-shore) along with the help of the Danish Energy Agency to check different technologies and prototypes.
- Nearshore projects: Three sites have been identified in GJ and TN where nearshore projects can be developed without Offshore grid requirement and offshore deployment. The projects are currently under the approval stage.
- Decentralized development: India is planning to start with a 150-300 MW project to demonstrate the technology and to learn lessons. This can be opened up to the decentralized mode where site lease will be awarded to the developer and it has to perform all the relevant studies and come up with a detailed project report to get the green signal from the government authorities.
- Centralized development: Centralised development seems to be a bit far considering demo, nearshore, decentralized projects seem to be a pathway that is being designed by the government. However, centralized project development like land-based RE will lead the way to scale the industry.
NIWE presented the status update on the first tender as well where it mentioned that the first draft of the LCOE model is ready with the help of Danish authorities. Inputs will be sought from the developers and stakeholders soon.
Shri. SK Mishra/Mr. YBK Reddy highlighted that from a system-level point of view, deployment of OW along with Onshore Wind is needed to create the complementarity on the grid with a high-level of solar deployment. This is required to ensure that RE can reach 40-50% of the energy mix as per India’s vision. SECI also highlighted that they are facing issues around land and grid in the majority of the 8-9 tranches that they are executing for Onshore wind and solar, and OW can be handy to address the land-based constraints.
However, there are two pre-considerations for OW in India. One is around lowering the cost which can be done by extending multiple options including but not limited to AD, GST waiver, tax benefits, OW grid, ports, ISTS waiver. This would result in the cost in the range of Rs 4-5/kWh. Some acceptability for the price point needs to be created for the off-taker, which can be done by accounting 2X-3X RPO for OW procurement or OW bundling with cheap onshore RE. These are some of the options which are being designed by the government intermediary bodies in India to make OW deployment feasible. However, nothing is finalized yet.
Mr. Desikan Sundarajan appreciated the work done by NIWE and SECI over the last 2 years. The major asks which he had from OW is:
- The scale is very important to bring down the cost. Minimum 300 MW projects should be designed by the government to explore scalability. If there is a smaller pilot project, then it needs to be solely or partially funded by the government.
- Technology and policy need to go together. Given that some of the TN sites are Tier 1 resources, the European supply chain can be leveraged very easily. On the policy side, there is a need for long-term visibility and a roadmap for international players to deploy investments.
Mr. Mette Buch highlighted that the prospects for Indian OW look bright and they would be happy to cooperate with MNRE, NIWE, and SECI. They have been working with NIWE on high-quality assessments as a consultant and have also established a centre of excellence with MNRE with a focus on OW energy. According to their experience, political commitment is necessary to bring the investment in a new market.
Mr. Alok Kumar talked about the following- what has been the progress since FOWIND in 2014-17, what are the technological considerations for OW in India and what are the supply chain and scale considerations that the government should have?
Alok highlighted that since the last FOWIND study, the major development has been around the resource assessments from LIDAR which shows that resource availability in GJ and TN is higher than those estimated from the satellite data. This means that OW competitiveness will also be higher than that estimated in 2017. Further, he also emphasised that with the latest assessment, it is still visible that GJ and TN resources are very different from each other. TN can directly leverage the European technology which is already available for the Tier 1 resource sites, but GJ would require specific engineering for 4-6 MW of turbine specific to the conditions.
In addition to the technology, Alok believes that the supply chain can be well leveraged from the existing onshore and Oil and Gas segments. A lot of capabilities already exist in India which can be scaled for providing OW. Some partnerships should be done with European companies to exchange the know-how. However, at the end, Alok stressed that despite good resources in TN, higher resource estimates, and supply chain synergies, the government should think about 3-4 GW annual volume to bring down the cost through scale and create a confirmed pipeline where scale can be leveraged.
Mr. Menno Nagel mentioned the supply chain constraints existing in the OW market with regards to ports and vessels. Although the potential of ports exists in India, a lot of actions need to be taken in terms of creating the storage area, where at least 2 tonnes per sq. meter is required on the port. The latest offshore installation vessels are key for smooth operations and India can investigate the possibility to construct jack-up vessels using the large ship-building base in the country.
He also emphasized the importance of looking carefully into the water depths and installation vessels to be able to install jackets or monopiles, especially in nearshore projects. In addition to the work needed in ports and vessels, India needs to give clarity around the pipeline for players to deploy assets.
Mr. Suresh highlighted that Danish players are keenly looking at the Indian market for a long time. They see a lot of potential for strategic cooperation with India. Also, a lot of developments have happened in Indian onshore wind over the last 10 years for skill, indigenization of products, material specifications, and capacity-wise requirement. However, offshore wind is different from Onshore Wind in terms of skills, turbines size, etc. where training is most important, which can be provided by the experienced Danish OW industry.
About MEC Intelligence (MEC+):
MEC+ is a market strategy and consulting firm focused on the renewables sector and is based out of India and Denmark. We have supported the largest global wind OEMs, European utilities, global supply chain players, equity funds to succeed in global OW markets. The company has been extensively working in the offshore wind sector since 2010 and has supported the development of supply chain, contracting models, clarifying cost reduction levers and identifying IRR drivers in OW. Work has involved identifying bottlenecks in the supply chain for M&A, clarifying cost reduction levers, and IRR in OW.
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