By Climate Scorecard India Country Manager Pooran Chandra Pandey
Successful farming in India typically requires irrigation and only 48% of the country’s “net sown area” is irrigated, the rest is dependent on the vagaries of nature. Of the country’s net amount of irrigated land, 62% is watered either by relatively deep tube wells or by other, shallower types of wells. Most of these wells are reliant on electric or diesel pumps. To meet its irrigation needs, India currently has a fleet of electric (21 million) and diesel (8.8 million) pumps.
Solar irrigation pumping solutions have a substantially lower environmental footprint compared to traditional options. The potential environmental advantages from solar pumping, compared to conventional methods, are impressive.
In India, it is estimated that 5 million solar pumps can save 23 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, or 10 billion litres of diesel. This translates into an emissions reduction of nearly 26 million tonnes of CO2 (World Wildlife Fund and Council of Energy, Environment and Water, 2013). The opportunity offered by solar irrigation for sustainable development, emissions reduction, and climate resilience also makes it a preferred contender for climate financing.
Federal Solar Irrigation System Policies
Three key federal solar irrigation system policies play a pivotal role in revolutionizing the country’s irrigation systems for sustainable agriculture processes, techniques, and systems seeing a massive take off in recent years. These policies and their outcomes have favourable economic, social, economic, and environmental repercussions.
- Policy 1 (2014): Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) Solar Pumping Programme for Irrigation and Drinking Water
- Option 1: Central Financial Assistance (CFA) of 30% of the benchmark cost of the pump.
- Option 2: 40% capital subsidy from MNRE, 20% beneficiary contribution, and the remaining amount extended as a loan implemented through National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
- Policy 2 (2017): MNRE closed NABARD credit-linked subsidy scheme and set modified capital subsidy rates
- The capital subsidy rates for 2017-2018 are 30% for pumps under 1HP, 25% for 1-3HP, and 20% for pumps 3-5HP.
- Policy 3 (2018): Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyan (KUSUM) Scheme
- Under the Rs 48,000 crore (USD 6 billion) schemes, 1.75 million solar pumps will be installed where the grid has not reached and 1 million solar pumps will be installed where the grid is available (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy).
The State of Gujarat SKY Project
In June 2018, the Gujarat government introduced Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY). SKY is a pilot project intended to enable 12,400 farmers in 33 districts of the state to generate solar power and use part of that power for irrigation while selling the surplus to the grid for INR 7 (USD 0.10) per unit for seven years and INR 3.50 (USD 0.05) per unit for the remaining years. Under the initiative, farmers contributed 40% of installation costs, while central and state governments subsidized 60% of costs. This program enabled farmers to gain greater access to a better power supply for more hours of the day while increasing their agricultural productivity and their overall income. This model could be well adopted by other states and become expanded nationally to drive the growth of solar powered irrigation across India. Clearly, it makes sense to replace existing electric and diesel pump sets with solar pumps.
Learn More: Sources
Directorate of Economics & Statistics, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers, http://www.mospi.gov.in/statisticalyear-book-india/2017/181
Pradhan Mantri Yojana, 2018, https://www.pradhanmantriyojana.in/suryashakti-kisan-yojana-sky/