West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s ‘no land acquisition’ policy has already impacted investment into West Bengal. Now, her policy to allocate State-held land through competitive bidding may prove to be a stumbling block in attracting investments in the Eastern region’s largest wind-farm project.
Leaving aside a pump storage project (which uses conventional electricity to generate hydro-power to ensure grid stability), more than 90 per cent of the State’s electricity needs are met through coal-based generation.The rest is mostly hydropower sourced from the Central sector.
The renewables total contribution (excluding hydro) is limited to 25 mw (out of over 4,000 mw needed daily) — that too, mostly from bio-mass sources. Wind farm capacity is a mere 2 mw in the Sunderbans.
To improve the renewable energy share, in 2009, the West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation (WBGEDC) proposed a 40-50 mw facility on 1,400 acres in the backwaters of Bay of Bengal at Dadanpatra, approximately 150 km from Kolkata, in Purba Medinipur district.
Of the total area, approximately half is used by the State Fisheries Department. The rest is under the closed State undertaking, Bengal Salt Company. WBGEDC felt that at least 40 odd wind-farms of 1.6 mw each may come up on the 700 acres available with Bengal Salt. The plant load factor (PLF) or capacity utilisation was estimated to be 16 per cent, lower than Tamil Nadu’s and Gujarat’s wind farms.