MNRE Unveils Revised Policy for Repowering Wind Power Projects
The National Institute of Wind Energy estimates India's repowering potential at 25.4 GW
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Wind Energy Division, has revised its 2016 policy for repowering wind power projects to facilitate the replacement of older turbines.
The ‘National Repowering & Life Extension Policy for Wind Power Projects – 2023’ allows the repowering or replacing of older turbines with more efficient ones, even before the end of their design life, through modifications in components such as gearbox, blades, generator, and controller.
The objective of the repowering and life extension policy is to optimize the utilization of wind energy resources by maximizing energy (kWh) yield per square kilometer in the project area, employing the latest onshore wind turbine technologies.
Within a month of announcing this policy, MNRE is expected to establish a monitoring and advisory committee, the Wind Repowering Committee, to assist in implementing the repowering/refurbishment policy. Its responsibilities include:
- Serving as a liaison between industry stakeholders and state/central government organizations.
- Facilitating effective implementation of the repowering policy for the Ministry.
- Recommending specific policy and regulatory interventions to realize the repowering potential.
- Monitoring the progress of various repowering/refurbishment projects under this policy.
The committee will consist of a joint secretary (Wind), MNRE (Chairman), representatives of the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency IREDA, Solar Energy Corporation of India SECI, and the central transmission utility, three independent experts from the wind sector (nominated by MNRE), and a representative of NIWE as the member secretary.
Repowering projects are entitled to various benefits and incentives to encourage their development. The Rural Electrification Corporation, Power Finance Corporation, and IREDA will provide loans for repowering projects under terms and conditions equivalent to those specified for new projects.
As an additional incentive, IREDA will offer a 0.25% interest rate rebate beyond the rate available for new wind projects financed by it. It may also introduce a debt financing product specifically tailored for repowering wind power projects.
Repowering projects will enjoy all fiscal and financial benefits applicable to new wind projects, provided they meet the relevant conditions. Developers undertaking repowering initiatives will also have the flexibility for micro-siting based on optimizing energy output.
The share of wind power in the country’s total installed capacity mix has increased from 21.1 GW in March 2014 to 44.29 GW in October 2023.
The National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) has estimated the repowering potential of the country to be 25.4 GW, considering wind turbines below the capacity of 2 MW.
Wind turbine generator technology has evolved, with individual rated capacities increasing from sub-MW scale to multi-MW scale.
Some older wind turbines have either completed or are nearing the end of their design life, being inefficient compared to the latest technology and having lower hub heights (30-60m) in contrast to the current 120-140m range.
NIWE will issue a repowering potential map for the country, focusing on wind turbines with capacities below 2 MW.
It will also create and manage a project database for all old projects, incorporating ownership, technology, turbine details, connected substations, and land ownership. It will collect and analyze performance data to identify sites requiring repowering or refurbishment by collaborating with state and central nodal agencies.
The policy establishes the following criteria for developers to pursue either repowering or refurbishment:
- All turbines that do not adhere to the quality control order issued by the Ministry or
- Turbines that have attained the end of their design life, certified through the Type Test Certificate in accordance with applicable relevant standards, or
- Wind turbines with a rated capacity below 2 MW or
- Those considered for repowering/refurbishment based on commercial or voluntary considerations after 15 years of installation.
A repowered or refurbished project is one that meets one or more of the specified eligibility conditions. The annual energy generation of the repowered or refurbished wind project must be increased by a minimum of 1.5 times in comparison to the actual generation of the original wind power project.
Repowering projects can be categorized into two types:
- Standalone project: This refers to a wind power project consisting of either a single turbine or a group of turbines owned by a single entity.
- Aggregation project: This pertains to a wind power project comprising a group of turbines owned by multiple owners who share a common infrastructure.
If the project owner chooses to extend the life of the wind turbines, any refurbishment undertaken for life extension purposes will be classified as a standalone project.
Power Purchase Agreements
The power purchase arrangement (PPA) entails continuing electricity procurement based on the average of the last three years’ generation until the PPA concludes. The existing PPA tenure may be extended by repowering/refurbishment or a maximum of two years.
The incumbent distribution company has no obligation to purchase or right over additional power post-repowering. Developers can sell extra power as desired, and wind farms/turbines undergoing repowering are exempt from supplying power during the execution period. DISCOMs/PPA owners receive one year’s notice before repowering, and the old PPA can be terminated by mutual consent.
Repowering/refurbishment projects must be commissioned within 24 months of receiving the consent letter. Partial commissioning and early commissioning of the project are permissible.
In August, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy urged MNRE to expedite the approval and implementation of the revised policy on repowering old wind turbines.
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