India: taming the tides in Gujarat
January 26, 2011 3:00 am by Akanksha Awal
While China declares itself as a world leader in wind energy, India is
also trying to make its claim in the global renewable energy sector,
and it is one step closer with the announcement that it plans to build
Asiaï¿½s first commercial tidal power plant.
The state government of Gujarat has signed preliminary agreement with
Britainï¿½s Atlantis Resources corporation to build a 250 MW tidal power
plant in the Gulf of Kutch along the countryï¿½s western coast.
The title of Asiaï¿½s first tidal power plant should be bestowed upon
South Korea for a plant being constructed near the Sihwa Lake on the
west coast of the country, but construction on the project has been
Indiaï¿½s recent investment in the renewable energy sector has grown
significantly. Two years ago Indiaï¿½s current government made renewable
energy its top priority, appointing Jairam Ramesh ï¿½ a high-profile
politician ï¿½ to the post of environment minister.
The country currently produces approx 15,000 MW of power from all
renewable sources, according to the Ministry of New and Renewable
Energy. Manmohan Singh, Indiaï¿½s prime minister, has put priority on
solar energy exploration to meet the countryï¿½s rising energy needs.
Private players too have been active in the sector: in 2009, Tata
announced plans for geothermal energy exploration in Gujarat, and the
Reliance group has set itself a target of producing 1000MW of
electricity from renewable sources by 2013.
The Gujarat power plant could power up to 100,000 houses, but at 250
MW it will be an minuscule contributor to the stateï¿½s 7000 MW
renewable energy target and and even small contributor to its 11,000
MW power needs.
Although the actual project costs of the plant have not been
disclosed, they are estimated to be something to the tune of ï¿½hundreds
of millions of dollarsï¿½, according to Tim Cornelius, the chief
executive of Atlantis Resources. He told beyondbrics that the company
was in talks with third-party investors to secure funding for the next
stage of the project and an announcement could be made in the next six
The high costs of the power plant have not deterred other state
governments from investing in the technology. The landmark deal is
said to have generated interest from Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal ï¿½
the two states with long coastlines ï¿½ which have contacted Atlantis to
conduct preliminary investigation to establish feasibility of tidal
power plants in these regions.
The interest generated by various state governments indicates their
overwhelming desire to meet the ever increasing power demand bought on
by rapid industrialisation.
ï¿½The power plant will allow sustainable development, technology
transfer and stimulate the local economy,ï¿½ Cornelius said.
The construction of the Gujarat tidal power plant will begin by the
end of the year ï¿½ initially with a capacity of 50 MW ï¿½ while full
installation and commissioning will only complete by the end of 2013.
And with that, the country hopes to make its mark on the renewable
energy sector globally ï¿½ deemed important to an emerging superpower as
it seems that present-day global supremacy wars are being fought on
the alternative energy pitch.
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