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Prelims Capsule


Difference in Offshore and Onshore Wind Turbine

Difference in Offshore and Onshore Wind Turbine


  • GS 3 || Economy || Infrastructure || Power and Energy

What is Off-shore and Onshore Wind power?

  • Offshore wind power, sometimes referred to as offshore wind energy, is when wind over open water, usually in the ocean, is used to generate power.
    • Wind farms are constructed in bodies of water where higher wind speeds are available.
  • Onshore wind power refers to turbines that are located on land and use the wind to generate electricity. They are generally located in areas where there is low conservation or habitat value.
    • In the offshore wind energy sector, the Government of India has already allocated 10,000 crores is the initial seed money from the clean energy fund, which is collected from coal cess.

Advantages of Offshore Wind

  • Energy collection is huge- Windmills can be built that are larger and taller than their onshore counterparts, allowing for more energy collection.
  • Far from sea
    • They tend to be far out at sea, meaning they are much less intrusive to neighboring countries, allowing for larger farms to be created per square mile.
    • Typically out at sea, there is a much higher wind speed/force allowing for more energy to be generated at a time.
  • No physical restrictions
    • There are no physical restrictions such as hills or buildings that could block the wind flow.

Advantages of Onshore Wind

  • Cheap cost- The cost of onshore wind farms is relatively cheap, allowing for mass farms of wind turbines.
  • Short distance-The shorter distance between the windmill and the consumer allows for less voltage drop-off on the cabling.
  • Installation is easy-Wind turbines are very quick to install, unlike a nuclear power station, which can take over twenty years, a windmill can be built in a matter of months.

India’s Wind Energy Potential

  • India was one of the early starters in wind energy compared to other nations especially developing nations. It is at the fourth position internationallyin overall wind generation capacity.
  • India has achieved significant success in onshore wind power development, with over 23 GW of wind energy capacity already installed and generating power.
  • Report by Fitch Solutions Macro Research
    • India is likely to install 54.7 GW of wind capacity by 2022 against the 60 GW target set by the government.
    • It has also been found that land acquisition issues and grid bottlenecks will lead to delays to project implementation in the wind sector.
  • 175 GW target
    • The country has set an ambitious target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by the year 2022, which includes 100 GW from solar, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from bio-power, and 5 GW from small hydro-power.
    • India has a potential of about 60 GW on the wind. It is quite likely that it would go up substantially because over time some of the old wind power stations that have very low capacity could be replaced with wind turbines that have higher capacity.
  • Oceans- The unexplored area
    • Across the world, exploration from this area is at a nascent stage.
    • India has a bit of a problem because on the eastern side it has a lot of cyclones that hit the coast. Probably, it can explore wind energy on the western side.
    • India is a country having around 7,700 km long coastline and in all of its exclusive economic zones, it has enough opportunity to harness wind energy.
  • Large potential in Western areas
    • It is found by the National Institute for Wind Energy (Chennai) that western states have larger potential in terms of a stable, steady, and speedy wind flow starting from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka to Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Challenges in Harnessing Offshore Wind Energy

  • Huge efforts and knowledge required
    • Offshore entails a lot of data collection before one venture into it.
    • For instance, Germany before it started its first few projects, took eight years to collect the metocean data and the geological data.
  • Investment is huge and incentive is missing
    • For producing wind energy from offshore,a lot of investment is required in developing the support infrastructure.
    • Presently, Europe is the leader in offshore.
    • The tariffs there are equivalent to what India’s onshore tariff is. Europe’s offshore wind energy was supported over the years by incentives. Such support is missing in India.
  • Underdeveloped sector
    • There is a concern that who would put money on offshore given the production of solar energy right now being so cheap and the onshore wind sector itself not as developed.


  • India needs to delink grid development with energy generation.
  • Trusting the market
    • The Government of India needs to trust the market.
    • It is the market that has led to low tariffs for solar as well as the wind, so the imposition of ceiling leads to arbitrary curtailment of free flow of market mechanism.
    • In a competitive market situation when for any number of reasons, if prices go up, the government should learn to live with that.
  • Exploiting the onshore potential
    • India should first fully exploit the onshore potential and it should also utilize the next few years for creating all the data that any investor would require before investing in the offshore wind energy sector.
  • Replace the old mills
    • India needs to replace inefficient windmills at older sites with new windmills.
  • Investments
    • At each stage of harnessing energy from winds, India needs competitive private investment to drive the progress.
  • Harnessing the wind power on the lines of solar
    • There is merit in developing solar and wind in a complementary manner. From a grid security perspective, as compared to solar, the wind is better in monsoon and night. Also, such a system will require a lower investment.
    • The way India has developed its solar energy sector, it needs to think on those lines for the wind energy sector as well.
  • Wind energy capacity is growing rapidly around the world as countries transition away from fossil fuels in favour of low-carbon alternatives, to reduce emissions and limit global warming.

Wing energy harnessing worldwide

  • As per Global Wind Report 2021- Enormous Increase
    • 2020 was the best year in history for the global wind industry with 93 GW of new capacity installed – a 53 percent year-on-year increase.
    • 743 GW of wind power capacity
      • There is now 743 GW of wind power capacity worldwide, helping to avoid over 1 billion tonnes of CO2 globally – equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of South America.
    • China – the world’s largest capacity for wind energy, totaling just over 288 GW at the end of 2020 – having added 52 GW of new power during that year, far more than any other country.
      • Just over 278 GW of China’s fleet is onshore wind, with the remaining 10GW based offshore.
    • United States – 122.32 GW
      • Second on the list is the US, which has around 122 GW of installed wind capacity – almost all of which is based onshore.
  • Germany – 62.85 GW
    • Germany is Europe’s top destination for wind power deployment, with a national fleet totaling just under 63 GW of installed capacity – split between 55 GW onshore and 7.7 GW offshore.
  • India – 38.63 GW
    • India is fourth on the list of countries with the highest wind energy capacity, with all of its near 39 GW located onshore.
    • The country currently has no installed offshore capacity, although has outlined targets to deploy 5 GW by 2022 and 30 GW by 2030.
    • The two top states in India for wind power generation are Tamil Nadu, home to the country’s largest wind farm Muppandal, and Gujarat.
  • Spain – 27.24 GW
    • Spain is home to just over 27 GW of installed wind energy capacity – and like the US and India, the country’s industry is characterized by onshore infrastructure.
    • Spanish energy company Iberdrola recently announced ambitions to develop the country’s first commercial-scale floating offshore wind project, which is intended to act as a springboard to a further 2 GW of offshore developments.


  • 2020 was a record year for the global wind power industry despite the impacts of COVID-19, but we are still falling short to meet the world’s climate targets.
  • The world needs to be installing wind power three times faster over the next decade to stay on a net-zero pathway and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
  • Worldwide, wind energy is accepted as one of the most developed, cost-effective, and proven renewable energy technologies to meet increasing electricity demands sustainably. While onshore wind energy technologies have reached a stage of large-scale deployment and have become competitive with fossil fuel-based electricity generation, with supportive policy regimes across the world, exploitation of offshore wind energy is yet to reach a comparable scale.
  • In the same way, India has established goals to expand its use of renewable energy and more efficient technologies and will achieve significant success in onshore wind power development.
  • Policymakers must take a “climate emergency”

Mains model question

  • Despite its many challenges, wind energy in India has a lot to gain from its experience and its large manufacturing base. Analyze.