Climate change conditions likely to benefit for wind farms in south India

The looming climate change threat is likely to cast a shadow on the renewable energy ambitions of various States in the country due to the increase in cloud cover and decrease in high velocity winds.

A recent study by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Ministry of Earth Sciences, Pune, reveals that seasonal and annual wind speed is likely to decrease over North India and increase along South India. On the other hand, solar radiation is estimated to decrease (10–15 Wm–2) over the next 50 years during all seasons. 

As part of the study, the researchers have created climate simulations for the past 55 years and future projections for 55 years from six models for the analysis. The model indicates that the wind potential over the onshore regions shows an increasing trend, while offshore regions show a decreasing trend for the non-monsoon months. 

The southern coast of Odisha and the States of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu show promising potential for wind energy in the climate change scenario. The seasonal analysis indicates that the southern and northwestern regions of the country will have higher wind speed in the winter and monsoon months when the wind potential is maximum. Regional analysis of wind potential also indicates that the frequency of high energy producing wind speeds will decrease, whereas low energy producing wind speeds are likely to increase in the future, the study says. 

Solar power to take a hit

Solar projections for the future, however, indicate that solar radiation will decrease during all seasons over most of the active solar farming regions in the country, including in Kerala. For future investments in the solar power sector, central and south-central India must be considered during the pre-monsoon months, as the potential loss is minimal in these regions.

Future projections also predict a shift in the frequency of solar radiation in the negative direction, implying that solar energy production will decrease in the immediate future. This can be attributed to the increase in total cloud cover, the study says. 

Call for R&D impetus

Speaking to The Hindu Dr. Parthasarathi Mukhopadhyay of IITM, who is part of the study along with researchers T. S. Anandh and Deepak Gopalakrishnan, said aerosol pollution is going to increase in the atmosphere and pollution enhances the cloud lifetime, which would interfere with the incoming solar radiation. “The projection we made indicates that there would be a reduction of solar radiation by 10% to 15% in the next 50 years. What we emphasised in the study is that research and development (R&D) should be targeted for reducing the possible impact of climate change on the renewable energy sector with enhanced efficiency of solar cells etc.,” said Mr. Mukhopadhyay.

To overcome the anticipated loss, more solar and wind farms and highly efficient technology than those available at present should be experimented, he added.

This assumes significance against the backdrop of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement at CoP-26 (26th Conference of parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)). Mr. Modi announced that the Union government is working towards achieving 500 GW of installed capacity from nonfossil fuels by 2030. The cumulative solar power installed capacity is 57,705 MW now. Kerala has the potential to generate 6.11 Gwp solar power and Tamil Nadu can produce 17.67 Gwp, while both the states have an installed capacity of 465.13 MW and 3995.87 MW, respectively.

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