The coronavirus-led lockdown has blown away India’s wind energy target for 2020, as all major turbine manufacturers, including Siemens Gamesa, Vestas, GE and Inox Wind, have suspended production, industry executives said.
BloombergNEF has lowered its expectation of how much wind energy capacity India will add in 2020 to 1.95GW from an earlier forecast of 2.56GW. “We cut that down by 24% due to the 21-day nationwide lockdown. There is a further downside risk to our current forecast if the lockdown extends beyond April 14,” Atin Jain, associate, BloombergNEF, told.
Jain said “almost all wind turbine makers and their part suppliers in India have shut their factories due to the lockdown.” Siemens Gamesa and Vestas have also halted production at their headquarters in Spain and Denmark, according to a Reuters report.
A spokesperson for Siemens Gamesa and a senior executive of Inox Wind confirmed the report.
Siemens Gamesa’s spokesperson said, “Considering the situation, operations at our manufacturing facilities at Mamandur, Redhills, Nellore and Halol will be suspended during the 21-day lockdown period.”
An email query sent to Vestas remained unanswered till as of press time.
GE said it is focused on employee health. “GE’s No.1 priority is the health and safety of our employees, and our primary focus currently is to take care of them. Across our businesses, we are in constant communication with our stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, and governments to maintain business continuity to the best of our ability,” the company said.
This is a big blow for the sector which was already troubled by low ceiling tariffs, renegotiation of power purchase agreements (PPAs), and connectivity delays for the last two years.
“We’d like the lockdown to be lifted, but the wind sector has been virtually shut for the past two years. What the country is going through for the past 10 days is what the wind sector has gone through for the past two years for no fault of ours,” an industry executive said.
Experts say it will take a few weeks for normalcy of operations to resume. “Once the lockdown is lifted, it could take at least another four to six weeks for normal operations to be restored. Local wind supply chain vendors’ production capabilities are hit due to the lockdown,” Jain said.
But the Inox executive said operations can resume quickly. “We are different from the solar industry because we do not have equipment from China entering India. And those items we import are already with us in our inventory,” the person said.
Since wind equipment manufacturers also supply equipment to foreign markets, those capabilities too are hit, sources said.
An industry insider, who requested not to be named, said, “Turbine manufacturers may ask their employees to take a pay cut. Different companies may use different strategies. Some may take short-term working capital loans to meet overheads.”
Since power is an essential service, the operations and maintenance business of the manufacturers has been allowed to continue. “But those employees who don’t live close to the site are being harassed by authorities and are prevented from doing their jobs,” the person cited earlier said.
However, some sources said things are improving. “We faced some problems during the initial days of the lockdown, especially in terms of operation and maintenance, manpower movement and moving spares from stores to different sites. But with the active intervention of the state governments and local authorities, most of the issues have been sorted out and requisite operation and maintenance activities are going on, and all, our plants are fully operational,” said Balram Mehta, president, asset management and wind, Renew Power.