8 August 2011 @ 10:25 am
That the once-little town Udumalaipettai, where I spent the first two years of my life, has a lot of wind farms is a well-known fact. That a lot of the wind power generated, especially during peak production periods in August and September, is left unutilised is not as well known to the general public.
When I last visited a wind farm near Udumalaipettai in late July a couple of years ago, more than half the wind turbines were not running despite high and consistent wind speeds because there either wasn’t enough demand or because there wasn’t enough transmission capacity.
While some say this is because of lack of transmission capacity to receive this energy, the Tamil Nadu state government says it is because there is not enough demand during the nights in August and September. The state government’s reason did not make a lot of sense given that the HT (High Tension) electricity customers in the Udumalaipettai-Tiruppur-Coimbatore region were largely cotton mills, textile mills and textile dyeing industries. They were already suffering from scheduled power outages to reduce the load on the grid and hence would have gladly ramped up their night shifts to make use of the excess wind power.
The Chief Minister, J. Jayalalithaa, announced today that the HT industrial customers in the state would no longer have to face 20% power consumption reduction if they opt to use wind power at night. Notwithstanding the all-too-frequent energy-power confusion (“100 MW of wind energy”), this report raises a couple of pertinent questions:
- If the announcement takes effect from today, how does it address the lack of power evacuation infrastructure? If transmission was the bottleneck in delivering wind energy to load, how did it disappear overnight?
- If Tamil Nadu has over 6000 MW of installed wind capacity and August and September nights are the peak production periods, why are only 100 MW of power being dispatched in this manner?
Originally published at armchaircritic.tumblr.com.