The Central Government has introduced the Offshore Wind Energy Lease Rules, 2023, outlining guidelines for the installation and operation of offshore wind energy projects. These rules have come into force from December 19, 2023.
The rules establish a regulatory framework to govern the leasing, operation, and maintenance of offshore wind projects within the Exclusive Economic Zone.
The key provisions of the Offshore Wind Energy Lease Rules, 2023 are as follows:
Lease Granting Process
The rules empower the Central Government to lease out offshore areas within the Exclusive Economic Zone for Offshore Wind Energy and Transmission Projects. The selection process for lessees will adhere to the National Offshore Wind Energy Policy, with clearances required from various ministries, including Defence, Home Affairs, Environment, and Ports.
Lessees are granted exclusive rights within the lease area for activities related to offshore wind energy and transmission. The rules define restrictions on entry, navigation, and activities within designated lease areas, with provisions for co-existence of certain activities, such as fishing for livelihood, alongside offshore wind farms.
Lease Terms and Conditions
Leases covering resource measurement or related study/survey activities will be valid for three years, extendable for two more years. For construction and operation, the lease can be extended for up to thirty-five years, subject to project viability and safety.
Applicants must deposit a refundable security deposit and pay an annual lease fee. Security deposits vary based on project type, and the lease fee is calculated per square kilometer. The rules also address the relinquishment of lease areas, security deposit refunds, and penalties for non-compliance.
Environmental and Security Measures
To ensure environmental sustainability and national security, the rules impose obligations on lessees to maintain equipment, adhere to security protocols, and share real-time surveillance information with relevant authorities.
Dispute Resolution and Cancellation
In case of disputes, a committee chaired by the Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, will attempt amicable resolution before arbitration. The rules outline conditions for lease cancellation, including violations, environmental damage, or failure to produce requisite project documents.
Decommissioning and Delivery of Premises
Lessees are required to decommission installations within two years of lease termination, responsibly disposing of materials. The rules also mandate the delivery of the lease area to the Central Government after termination.
The Central Government has the authority to issue instructions regarding the spacing of wind turbines, offshore sub-stations, and least distances from boundary coordinates. The rules also empower agencies, including the Indian Coast Guard, for supervision and control of operations.
The Offshore Wind Energy Lease Rules, 2023, aim to facilitate the growth of renewable energy while ensuring environmental sustainability and national security. The regulatory framework provides a roadmap for the development and operation of offshore wind projects.