Mumbai

‘Vast potential for solar-powered irrigation’

A switch from conventional irrigation-pump systems to solar-powered ones in India would save enormous sums of money and generate income for farmers, according to a report by US based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

The report titled, “India: Vast Potential in Solar-Powered Irrigation” notes that while the idea of replacing some 30 million grid-attached or diesel pumps with solar pumps is gaining traction, the pace of deployment has been slow.

However, it adds that recent solar-irrigation initiatives by way of the central government’s Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyan (KUSUM) scheme and the Gujarat state government’s Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY) scheme are steps in the right direction.

Extra income

“The government, to its credit, is encouraging farmers to install standalone, 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),” according to Vibhuti Garg, an IEEFA energy economist and author of the report.

“Considering the declining trend in prices of solar modules combined with economies of scale, IEEFA sees the all-in cost of solar-powered irrigation as a strong argument for reducing reliance on the current expensive government-subsidized model,” Mr. Garg said. “The strategy also stands to give a strong push to the government’s ‘Make in India’ program by stimulating domestic solar-pump manufacturing.”

About 70% of India’s rural households still depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood, and successful farming in India typically requires irrigation.

A robust national solar-irrigation program would substantially contribute to India reaching its goal of 100 gigawatts of solar energy capacity by 2022.

The government could achieve 38% of its renewable electricity-generation target just by shifting from conventional pumps to solar irrigation pumps.

According to Mr. Garg, a significant up-scaling of solar-power irrigation would be broadly beneficial and specifically useful in providing distributed/end-of-grid generation, reducing the need for heavily subsidised electricity to the agricultural sector and aligning solar generation with water irrigation time of use.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 10:14:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/vast-potential-for-solar-powered-irrigation/article24728124.ece

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