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Udumalpet turning into land of wind turbines

M. Gunasekaran

400 turbines commissioned since March; another 200 coming up



WIND OF CHANGE: A trailor carrying parts of the tower of wind turbine near Udumalpet. — Photo: M. Balaji

UDUMALPET: Those who drive down to remote villages in the Udumalpet region can see huge trucks carrying large blades and gigantic towers meant for wind turbines. While travelling along the Pollachi-Udumalpet, Palladam-Udumalpet, Pollachi-Palladam highways, wind turbines with gigantic blades greet us on both sides.

Though it may appear like a big fan with wings, its size and weight will amaze you. The tower of a turbine goes up to 78 metres and the length of each blade is 40 metres. The nosal atop the tower, where the generator works, weighs around 50 tonnes.

With land not available in wind-rich Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli districts and with inadequate grid facility, industrialists are shifting focus to the Udumalpet-Palladam region on the Palakkad pass.

Wind turbines are not new to this place. But, there has been a spurt in their growth during the last six months.

"Fifty to 60 towers were installed every year during the last decade. Nearly 400 turbines were installed during the five months from March. This is an all-time high figure and has never happened,'' says a senior Tamil Nadu Electricity Board official.

The area has been witnessing a steady increase in the installation of wind turbines during the past three years as the textile sector, particularly in Tirupur and Coimbatore, is expanding and are interested in availing the five per cent interest subsidy under the technology upgradation fund scheme.

At present, around 2,200 wind turbines with a capacity of 850 MW are operational in the region and installation of about 200 turbines is progressing.

The TNEB has sent proposals for a grid facility and establishment of sub-stations to add another 500 MW.

According to K.V. Sajai, Area Sales Manager of NEG MICON, the region has the potential for 500 more turbines provided the TNEB upgrades the grid to tap the power generated by the turbines.

The capacity of turbines ranges from 225 KV(electricity generated in an hour) to 1,650 KV and they need six acres of land depending on their size. According to a rough estimate, if the wind is good, a 1,650 KV turbine generates 54 lakh units of power a year.

The TNEB buys a unit of electricity at Rs. 2.70.

Farmers, who were reluctant to sell their land five years ago, are now coming forward to sell as the price offered by wind farms are fabulous. Banks in the region, particularly in Poolavadi, Thungavi, Metrathi, Ponnapuram, Andhiyur, Sultanpet, Kethanur, Edayarpalayam and Puthupalayam are flooded with deposits from farmers.

Udumalpet, once popular for having dozens of spinning mills, is slowly turning into a town of windmills.

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