Promoting Solar for Irrigation among Farmers
Karnataka is promoting solar pumps for existing grid-connected farmers under a net-metering regime, allowing them to generate additional income by feeding back surplus energy into the grid.
Maharashtra is solarising its agricultural feeders by installing solar power plants at the substation level, through competitive bidding.
Despite the diversity of approaches and significant government subsidies, only about 1,42,000 pumps have been deployed till date against a target of one million pumps by 2021.
Solar pumps hold potential to enhance irrigation access, advance low-carbon agriculture, reduce the burden of rising electricity subsidies, and improve the resilience of farmers against a changing climate. But farmers’ perspectives have to be considered and the local context appreciated when deploying the technology to maximise economic returns.
Steps to promote solar for irrigation-
1. Target marginal farmers with smaller solar pumps, particularly in areas with good groundwater development potential
2. Couple solar pump deployment with micro-irrigation and water harvesting interventions at the farm and community levels
3. Focus on technology demonstration and deploy at least five solar pumps in each block of the country
4. Prefer feeder solarisation through competitive bidding over solarisation of individual pumps
5. Encourage sharing of solar pumps among farmers through farmer extension programmes
6. Promote community-owned solar pumps