Monday, October 8, 2007

Coal is still king, but wind energy grows in India

From the AP via Macleans:

The wind farm is visible from kilometres away, a forest of looming turbines churning in the afternoon breeze, rising incongruously above fields of barley, corn and sunflowers.

"This is the only future for the long-term," says Tulsi Tanti, 49, a one-time yarn manufacturer who turned a small wind energy sideline into the sprawling corporation Suzlon, and turned himself into a billionaire in the process.

If wind power has a reputation of being on the fringes - an expensive technology that has more to do with environmentalist dreams than electricity production - India is also proving it to be a viable energy source, even in the developing world. India has the fourth-highest installed capacity for wind power in the world, lagging only Germany, Spain and the United States, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.

Wind, like solar and other renewable energy sources, still faces major hurdles. In India, it costs a wind farm about 7 U.S. cents to produce a kilowatt-hour of electricity - approximately 50 per cent more than coal, according to the New Delhi-based Energy and Resources Institute. As in most countries, wind energy is supported by tax breaks and subsidies that make it competitive.
Even Tanti acknowledges wind isn't going to replace coal - which today supplies about 65 per cent of India's electricity - anytime soon.

But the cost of wind has dropped dramatically in the past decade, in some cases by more than half, and is expected to drop further as the technology advances. And coal could become more expensive if global warming forces countries to adopt costly methods to reduce the pollution it generates....MORE