Overcoming Climate Change Risks: India’s Quest to Expand Offshore Wind Power

Highlights :

  • Wind Speeds and Cyclones can potentially impact the offshore wind power generation the country as India aims to generate 30 GW by 2030
Overcoming Climate Change Risks: India’s Quest to Expand Offshore Wind Power

India is banking on wind power expansion to meet close to a third of its 2030 renewables target, with solar accounting for most of the rest. Importantly, the country is finally actively pushing for offshore wind power as it aims to achieve 30 GW of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030. With one of the longest coastlines, offshore wind had been avoided thus far mainly due to costs, which have come down sufficiently in the past decade to finally make it to India’s plans too.

While India failed to reach its 2022 wind energy capacity target, the South Asian powerhouse aims to build 140 gigawatts (GW) of wind capacity (onshore and offshore) by 2030, which could power about 100 million homes – part of its wider goal to install 500 GW of renewables by the decade’s end. India’s first-ever offshore wind energy tender is still awaited. The tender will be for four blocks of seabed in the Gulf of Mannar, off the coast of southern Tamil Nadu, each of which can accommodate 1 GW of wind power plants.

While offshore wind power is on the verge of powering India, meteorological and several other factors have the potential to impact the viability of offshore wind projects in India. These challenges must be overcome before the country moves to the hitherto unexplored offshore wind sector.

Wind Speeds

As good intensity sunshine hours matter for more solar energy, wind speeds matter in the selection of sites for offshore wind projects. Thus, despite having a 7600 km long coastline, windmills can not be installed randomly, and depend on several factors including wind speeds.

As per the National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE), 71 GW worth of offshore energy potential off the coast of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu exists for 36 GW and 35 GW, respectively. MNRE has shared a strategy paper for the establishment of Offshore Wind Energy Projects. As per the paper, eight zones each off the coast of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu were identified as potential offshore energy zones.

As per MNRE, the best onshore windy sites in India have an average wind speed of 6-7 m/s. Accordingly, it can be expected that the offshore wind projects in the identified location may operate at a CUF of about 45 per cent. In comparison, India’s capacity utilisation factor (CUF) of onshore wind plants is nearly 25 per cent. CUF is the ratio of power generated by a power plant to its maximum possible output for a year.


The functioning of turbines is dependent on wind speeds, but these giant structures are vulnerable to high winds from climatic phenomena like cyclones, especially when so many wind turbines are placed offshore to generate clean energy. Indian coasts are prone to Cyclones, especially the Bay of Bengal, which is one of the most active areas for cyclone formation. The Arabian Sea has also witnessed an increase in several extreme weather events in recent times. These climatic phenomena can considerably affect  projects and their power generation.

Cyclones bring strong winds and turbulent weather conditions. Offshore wind turbines are designed to withstand high wind speeds, but extremely severe cyclonic winds can still cause damage to the turbine blades, tower, or other components. The forceful winds can also lead to increased stress and fatigue on the structures, potentially affecting their long-term reliability.

In addition, if a cyclone passes through or near an offshore farm, it can lead to power interruptions. The grid infrastructure that connects the wind farm to the mainland may be affected by the storm, resulting in a temporary shutdown of power transmission.
Cyclones also have some environmental effects too. The establishment of a wind farm and the noise produced by the turbines can have adverse effects on the marine life in the area.

Tropical cyclones are one of the most devastating phenomena on the planet, especially due to the lives claimed and the damage to infrastructure and properties.

Environmental Impact

Like coastlines everywhere, India’s coastal areas also support a thriving fishing and marine industry, in Gujarat as well as Tamil Nadu. These seas support millions , and any drastic impact on the environment, that is already under stress, could lead to severe consequences. Fishermen in any case will be wary of the large offshore turbines and their installation process, for the damage it can cause to breeding grounds for marine flora and fauna. These apprehensions will need to be addressed on priority to avoid a false start.

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