A switch from conventional diesel- and electric-powered irrigation pumps to solar-powered ones can help the country achieve 38 per cent of its envisaged 175 Gw renewable energy target by 2022.
The shift to solar-powered irrigation pumps can also save enormous sums of money and generate additional income for farmers, says a report by the US-based Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis (IEEFA).
The IEEFA report, titled 'India: Vast Potential in Solar-Powered Irrigation', 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 and the Gujarat government's Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY) are steps in the right direction for solar-powered irrigation initiatives. The 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)," wrote Vibhuti Garg, an IEEFA energy economist and the author of the report.
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