WindWith a view to develop offshore wind energy in the country in a focused manner, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy recently released the draft National Offshore Wind Energy Policy – 2013.

The draft policy is based on inputs from the Offshore Wind Energy Steering Committee that has been constituted under the chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

Across the globe, while onshore wind energy technologies have reached a stage of mass deployment and become competitive with fossil fuel based electricity generation because of supportive policy regimes, the same cannot be claimed with regard to exploitation of offshore wind energy.

Till date, about 5 GW offshore wind capacity has been installed around the world and an equal capacity is under construction. A large number of offshore wind farms exist in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The European Union has set a target to install 40 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2020 and 150 GW by 2030.

In India, prospect for offshore wind energy is present along the coastlines of Kerala, Karnataka and Goa. The wind resource data collected for the coastlines of Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat shows reasonable potential. A preliminary assessment suggests potential to establish around 1 GW capacity wind farm each along the coastlines of Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu.

Offshore wind farms can be built on a country’s territorial waters, which generally extend up to 12 nautical miles from the coast, and beyond the 12 nm limit and up to 200 nm (Exclusive Economic Zone), where, under international law, the country has the right to construct structures such as wind farm installations.

The challenges in offshore wind power deployment relate to resource characterization, grid interconnection and operation, and development of transmission infrastructure. Also, adding large capacities of offshore wind generation to the power system would require reliable integration with the national grid.

In addition to deployment of offshore wind farms in the first instance up to 12 nm from coast, the National Offshore Wind Energy Policy will aim at attracting investments in energy infrastructure, promoting spatial planning and management of maritime renewable energy resources in the EEZ, achieving energy security, reducing carbon emissions, indigenization of offshore wind energy technology, promoting research and development in the offshore wind energy sector and creating skilled manpower and employment in a new industry.

As per the draft policy, the MNRE will be the nodal ministry for development of offshore wind energy in the country. Its role will include monitoring offshore wind development in the country, coordination with other ministries and departments, issuing guidelines and directives for development of offshore wind energy, overseeing the working of National Offshore Wind Energy Authority and extending necessary support and promoting indigenous research for technology development.

The NOWA will carry out resource assessment and surveys in the EEZ and enter into contract with project developers for development of offshore wind energy projects in territorial water (12 nm). The preliminary resource assessment, Environment Impact Assessment and oceanography survey will be carried out through specialist agencies for demarcation of offshore wind energy blocks. Private players having expertise in studies and surveys may also be granted permission on case to case basis to collect data and have shared ownership on it without any charges payable for the work. The offer of blocks will be made through the open international competitive bidding process. The successful bidders will have to enter into a contract with NOWA for a stipulated time period. The lease will be limited to exploration and exploitation of wind energy in the allocated block. In case of grant of lease for a proposed offshore wind farm, the developer will have to submit a decommissioning programme to NOWA before commencing any offshore construction works.

The Authority will be the single window agency and coordinate with concerned ministries and departments for necessary clearances.

The OWESC will steer the offshore wind energy development in the country by providing policy guidance and overseeing the execution and effective implementation of specific offshore wind energy activities.

The draft National Offshore Wind Energy Policy provides for certain fiscal incentives such as tax holiday for first ten years of offshore wind power generation, concession in customs duty and exemption in excise duty for procurement of technology and equipment. Services such as resource assessment / EIA / oceanographic study by third party and utilization of survey vessels and installation vessels may also be eligible for exemption from service tax.

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