Tiny wind turbines for big India

Tata Power Company seeks to go off the grid by bringing wind turbines to the rooftops of rural India. Will the small packages of clean kilowatts add up to big energy?
Written by Melissa Mahony, Contributor

Much of rural India is off the grid. In thousands of the country's villages and households, a little bit of electricity could go along way. Tata Power Company, India's largest private utility, aims to send some energy to these remote locales. Not through transmission lines do they hope to do so, but via 2-kilowatt wind turbines.

Mounted to rooftops, the small-scale wind systems could potentially provide enough power to run a few 40-watt light bulbs and 60-watt ceiling fans for a home.

Business Standard quotes Prasad Menon, Tata Power managing director:

Our objective is to establish a model for rural India that can have mass usage at low cost. We still feel that decentralised biomass-based solutions are a good option to power rural India. However, aggregation of biomass remains a challenge that needs to be effectively addressed. That is the reason why Tata Power is looking at hydro, waste gases, wind, solar, and geothermal as the future green power avenues.

The biomass Menon was referring to was rice husk, a pilot project the company is also developing. With a present generating capacity of 3,000 megawatts (most of it from coal), the company is seeking to expand its portfolio into cleaner energies as well into new markets. Instead of extending the grid to far-flung communities, Tata plans to bring them small turbines to generate their own electricity.

Mridul Chadha reports for Earth & Industry:

Shifting of power generation of centre from traditional power plants to homes and communities would ensure reduction in losses due to power theft and would also improve the stability of the grid. India lost a staggering 88,327 MW due to power theft in 2007-08.

Power generation through localized clean energy technologies would not only reduce India's carbon emission output but could also reduce power wastage as people would possibly value this resource more when them produce it 'themselves', at their homes.

But the company isn't just interested in all things small (albeit there is another micro-product the Tata Group is known for, the Tata Nano.) Last week they announced plans to double their wind power capacity to 400 megawatts—this time, with bigger turbines designed by German company Kenersys GmbH—across the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Karnataka in western India.

: Earth & Industry

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards