A report, titled ‘India: Vast Potential in Solar-Powered Irrigation’, by the US-based Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis (IEEFA) found out that a shift to solar-powered irrigation pumps can save enormous sums of money and generate additional income for farmers in India.
This switch from conventional diesel- and electric-powered irrigation pumps to solar-powered ones will also help the country in achieving 38 per cent of its envisaged 175 Gw renewable energy target by 2022.
The report notes that the idea of replacing some 30 million grid-attached or diesel pumps with solar pumps is gaining traction but the pace of deployment is slow.
The Government of India’s Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthan Mahaabhiyan (KUSUM) scheme mandates deployment of 2.75 million solar pumps in the first phase of its implementation. The initiative would produce an additional 4 Gw of installed solar power, thus giving a material boost to the country’s renewable energy deployments.
The government, to its credit, is encouraging farmers to install stand-alone, solar-powered, off-grid pumps to not only meet their irrigation needs but also to provide an extra income source from selling surplus power to distribution companies (discoms).
The upfront cost of solar pumps, the heavily subsidised supply of electricity to the rural sector, poor after-installation maintenance support and lack of awareness on benefits of solar power have dissuaded most farmers to shift from the conventional irrigation mode.
However, solar-powered irrigation offers huge economic and environmental benefits and schemes like KUSUM are pointers to the attitudinal shift.
Reference- Business Standard, IEEFA Report, The Hindu