Prospects for wind energy utilisation in Karnataka State

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Abstract

An examination of the data available at 22 meteorological stations in Karnataka State shows that wind velocities in the State as a whole are neither spectacularly high nor negligibly low. The highest winds (annual mean of around 13 km/hr) are experienced in parts of the northern maidan region of the State (Gulbarga, Raichur and Bidar districts) and in Bangalore. The winds are strongly seasonal: typically, the five monsoon months May-September account for about 80% of the annual wind energy flux. Although the data available are inadequate to make precise estimates, they indicate that the total wind energy potential of the State is about an order of magnitude higher than the current electrical energy consumption.

The possible exploitation of wind energy for applications in rural areas therefore requires serious consideration, but it is argued that to be successful it is essential to formulate an integrated and carefully planned programme. The output of current windpumps needs to be increased; a doubling should be feasible by the design of suitable load-matching devices. The first cost has to be reduced by careful design, by the use of local materials and skills and by employing a labour-intensive technology. A consideration of the agricultural factors in the northern maidan region of the State shows that there is likely to be a strong need for mechanical assistance in supplemental and life-saving irrigation for the dry crops characteristic of the area. A technological target for a windmill that could find applications in this area would be one with a rotor diameter of about 10 m that can lift about 10,000 litres of water per hour in winds of 10 km/hr (2.8 m/s) hourly average speed and costs less than about Rs 10,000. Although no such windmills exist as of today, the authors believe that achievement of this target is feasible. An examination of various possible scenarios for the use of windmills in this area suggests that with a windpump costing about Rs 12,000, a three hectare farm growing two dry crops a year can expect an annual return of about 150% from an initial investment of about Rs 15,000. It is concluded that it should be highly worthwhile to undertake a coordinated programme for wind energy development that will include more detailed wind surveys in the northern maidan area (as well as some others, such as the Western Ghats), the development of suitable windmill designs and a study of their applications to agriculture as well as to other fields.