Not far from the agitation against the nuclear power plant, thousands of windmills around Kudankulam are calmly rotating to produce power — drawing from nature.
The combined capacity of wind turbines on the 120km stretch from Kanyakumari to Tuticorin — where the anti-nuclear plant protests are centred — is much more than — some estimates say nearly double — the 2,000MW capacity of the two reactors being commissioned at Kudankulam.
The corridor with its ideal geography between sea and hills and winds from advancing and receding monsoons is the hub of wind energy form the country’s highest concentration of windmills.
“New high energy turbines producing between 1.2MW to 2.1MW each have taken the power output in this stretch beyond 3,000MW,” said S Gomathinayagam, executive director of the central government-run Centre for Wind Energy Technology.
Even scientists who planned the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) saw the benefits of wind energy. Eight wind turbines are installed at the KNPP with a total capacity of 10MW.
The nationwide installed capacity of wind turbines is 17,400MW and Tamil Nadu with 7,000MW tops the wind energy sector in the country. Wind energy contributes about 40% of power in the state during the peak season.
Experts list the advantages wind-energy has over other sources like freedom from fuel dependence on other nations.
“While many coal deposits remain unexploited, nuclear energy is expensive and has long gestation periods. Wind provides a new energy alternative, coming as cheap as Rs 3.50 per unit,” said a sector specialist.
Nuclear energy costs about Rs 4 per unit, though the government claims that the per-unit cost of power from the KNPP would be Rs 2.50. Though wind rescues Tamil Nadu from shortages during peak seasons, its seasonal variance is a major drawback for production of the same output throughout the year.