Focus back on growth with 800 Mw commissioned: Sembcorp Energy's Vipul Tuli

Wind power has faced multiple challenges in India. Many manufacturers have faced difficulties as large capacities were established but not utilised, said Vipul Tuli, MD, Sembcorp Energy India
Sembcorp Energy India has announced the commissioning of its 800-Mw wind power capacity, which it had won in auctions conducted by Solar Energy Corporation of India. In an interview with Jyoti Mukul & Shreya Jai, Managing Director Vipul Tuli discusses the future of renewable power in India. Edited excerpts:

What significance does commissioning of the three projects, totalling 800 Mw, hold?

We won these projects in SECI’s auctions over three phases. This is a collective achievement for the power sector. The renewable energy ministry framed the regulations and clarifications, SECI innovated in terms of tendering and sorted out bottlenecks, with state governments taking up land-related and local issues.

PowerGrid built the sub-stations at a breakneck speed. Old mechanisms have been modified. Even our execution partners Suzlon and Gamesa kept their focus on the projects despite their struggles.

What challenges did you face during the lockdown?

These were in the form of movement — of both men and material. In the last project, many construction workers were onsite, and faced restrictions during the initial days of the lockdown. We suffered a delay of 45-50 days, as we had to shut down activity for close to two months.

What is your total wind portfolio?

Our total renewable capacity stands at 1,730 Mw. Of this, 35 Mw is in solar and the rest in wind. Before this bidding, each developer used to do projects of 40-50 Mw in size.

These are now mega projects — in terms of capacity, area or technology. The total area of these three projects totals over 2,500 sq km. Before these projects happened, tariff was typically at Rs 4-5 per unit under the feed-in-tariff regime.

For SECI-I, it dropped to Rs 3.46. In SECI-II, it was a further drop to Rs 2.65 and Rs 2.44 in SECI-III. The last one is the most affordable tariff in the country.

Which states will get power from these projects?

The three have come up in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, and power will be supplied to UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Delhi, Odisha, and Punjab. We have a PPA with SECI, which has back-to-back PPAs with these states.

The domestic wind turbine market has faced many challenges, in terms of price and availability. What prospects do you see?

Wind power has faced multiple challenges in India. Many manufacturers have faced difficulties as large capacities were established but not utilised. If you look at these projects, 85 per cent are made in India, which means indigenisation, local job creation, local supply chain, technology, and local design.

With new hybrid tenders coming up, states realise they want renewable power most during the evening. To provide solar power in the evening, one has to store it, which is expensive. As wind energy is generated in the evening, states see the need for hybrid, for which they have to combine solar and wind. We expect wind volumes to rise.






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