Repowering: Extend new life into older wind projects

India has started harnessing the wind power in the late eighties and as on 31st September 2022 the total wind power capacity installed in the country has reached 41.66 GW. The share of wind power in the total installed capacity mix in the country also reached 10.2% as of September 30, 2022.

However, everything in this world has an expiry date including wind turbines. India also has significant number of old wind turbines that have already completed their design life while some are approaching the end of their design life. Therefore, it is essential to repower these older, smaller wind turbines with higher capacity and higher efficiency turbines, in order to optimally utilize the wind energy resource available at the respective site.

As per National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE), estimated repowering potential at present in the country is about 25.406 GW (considering the wind turbines of less than 2 MW capacity).

To leverage this potential, a draft policy for repowering the wind power projects was issued by Ministry on 05th, August,2016. Based on this policy, feedback received from the stakeholders has been modified from the Ministry and prepared the Draft of National Repowering Policy for Wind Power Projects-2022.

Stakeholders are requested to submit their suggestions/comments on the draft within 15 days, i.e., latest by 1st November 2022.

Some key highlights of this draft policy are:

Objective– The main objective of the Repowering Policy is optimum utilization of Wind energy resource by maximizing energy (kWh) yield per of the project area and utilizing the latest state-of-the art onshore Wind turbine technologies

Eligibility– Repowering will be eligible for wind turbines having less than 2 MW and whose total capacity is completed 90% of their design life. A set of exiting wind turbines project area is having a contiguous land and all turbines are connected to a single pooling station considered for repowering.

Project Classification– A Repowering project would be classified into two types which is Standalone Project and Aggregation project.

State Nodal Agencies (SNA) and Central Nodal Agencies (CNA) will be identifying the potential turbines for Standalone projects for Repowering and project owner will submit the complete detailed project report (DPR) for old wind turbines to the State/central nodal agencies. In case of Aggregation projects, State/central nodal agencies will nominate any State/Central public sector as wind repowering project aggregators (WRPA) to repower the project or bring out the interest from private developer.

The selection of the private developer as WRPA would be based on minimum technical criteria and submission of consent letters from all the identified turbine owners. A private developer can also identify the potential turbines for repowering and also submit proposal to the concerned State/Central Nodal agencies along with proper consent letters from all the identified wind turbine owners because of this case, SNA or CNA must nominate the Private developer as WRPA.

Power Purchase Arrangement (PPA) for Repowering Projects:

  • If the PPA tenure is less than 25 years, the concerned DISCOM extend the tenure of the PPA for a period of 25 Years from the date of Commissioning of the original project & continue to procure the power generated for remaining tenure of the PPA.
  • Project developers can sell additional wind capacity of the power to the concerned DISCOMs or any other entities like third party [1]if the concerned DISCOM refuses to procure the power.
  • Wind turbines undergoing for repowering, that particular duration supplying of power to the purchasing entity is exempted and their consumers allowed to purchase power from the grid. Additionally, the repowering period must be not exceeded two years from the date of commencement.

Incentives for Repowering Projects:

  • For repowering projects, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) will provide an additional interest rate as rebate of 0.25% for new Wind projects financed by agency.
  • The wind renewable energy obligation compliance of the states is exempted where the repowering project is located, and it will be exempted for the remaining period until the commissioning of the repowered project.

India announced a repowering policy six years ago, but the project is yet to be implemented. India is facing challenges while repower the old wind projects. Some of them are:

  • Most of the old wind projects are connected to 11KV transmission line. However, the modern wind turbines are connected to 33KV or preferably 66 KV transmission line for proper evacuation.
  • There are multiple owners of wind turbines within the same wind farms. Since the total number of turbines reduced when you repower, it creates a challenge to reorganize the ownership of the turbines.
  • Most of the existing wind turbine owners unable to decide to go for repowering due to loss of the future revenue from their projects and also need to be compensate to get the financial loss while selling the scrap material.

To conclude, this policy will bring the required thrust for growth in the wind sector and will help the stakeholders via different incentives to consider repowering their old wind turbines. Moreover, this will also contribute and help India reach its target of 50% of the cumulative power capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.

[1] JMK Research and MNRE National repowering Policy