Ahead of their time: How a close-knit business community sparked India’s energy transition
New Delhi / 5 January 2021
Every journey begins with a single step. When Siemens Gamesa (then Gamesa) entered India, a community of business owners in Tamil Nadu, the country’s wind capital in the country’s south west, saw wind turbine generation as an attractive investment. In a way, this community pioneered India’s wind sector long before Independent Power Producers (IPPs) emerged. As the company celebrates 10 years in the country, we look at some of the early partnerships that spurred an energy transition in India and Sri Lanka.
After exploring the market in 2005, the erstwhile Gamesa set up an independent presence in 2009. The Indian government’s accelerated depreciation and captive power adjustment benefits, introduced in the 1990s, had attracted a new segment of private investors - micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
“With Tamil Nadu being the leading state in India’s wind sector, we saw a lot of traction with business owners in and around Coimbatore. Primarily from the textile cluster, they saw a good investment opportunity and moved quickly,” notes Karpagavalli Raju, Application services manager, Siemens Gamesa India.
Jayakrishna Flour mills is one of India’s leading 100% natural wheat flour products manufacturers. The company has two fully automated Swiss standard Buhler plants, with a production capacity of 9,000T/ month, powered entirely by its own wind turbine generators.
The project, signed in January 2010, moved at lightning speed. By March, 15 850-KW turbines (manufactured by Made, a legacy brand) - were commissioned in Vepillankulam Village, Radhapuram Taluk in Tirunelveli District.
“Even though the company has grown, the Siemens Gamesa team is very responsive. Our turbines are still running and generating clean electricity,” adds Mohan.
As other business owners from this close-knit community saw the results, interest in captive wind farms grew, ramping up the company’s installed base quickly.
On the strength of this experience, the company secured more orders. Recently, LTL (Lankan Transformers Limited) has commissioned a 20-MW wind farm at Chunakkam in northern Sri Lanka featuring the region’s first 2.65 MW WTG.
“We have been associated with Siemens Gamesa as wind power partner in Sri Lanka since 2011, and are impressed with the team’s attitude and dedication. Their consistent hard work and commitment has ensured high quality maintenance of our wind farms, and in achieving the intended performance,” explains Nuhuman Marikkar, Deputy Chief Executive Officer – LTL Holdings.
“One of our first IPP customers - CLP - came as a reference from our Spanish colleagues. We successfully delivered our G97-2.0 MW wind turbines for the project at Jath, Maharashtra, and this set the ball rolling,” adds Ms. Raju.
“Our new SG 3.4-145 wind turbine is optimized for Indian conditions, and will be manufactured locally. It delivers 48% more AEP (annual energy production) than its predecessor, and complies with market expectations around output and profitability during low winds,” notes Navin Dewaji, Chief Executive Officer, Siemens Gamesa India. “Ten years down, we’re confident about the future and believe the long-term fundamentals are strong. Together with our stakeholders, we’ll continue to further the cause of renewables in the subcontinent.”