Successful Installation of Solar pumps across India can help India overachieve its RE targets

Gandhinagar/ New Delhi| July 31, 2018| A Greenpeace India, Gujarat Energy Research Management Institute (GERMI) and IWMI-Tata Water Policy Program analysis finds [1] that if solar pumps were to replace traditional water pumps in farms across the country, India could surpass its solar target of 100  GW by 2022. These grid-connected, net metered solar pumps will also play an important role in providing secondary income to farmers, while giving them access to quality power for irrigation during the day.

The analysis was released at a roundtable conference hosted by Greenpeace India, GERMI, and IWMI-Tata Program to discuss steps necessary for the successful implementation of KUSUM (an acronym for Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahaabhiyan) – a central government scheme promoting solar irrigation pumps. Representatives from leading think-tanks, farmer groups, policy advocacy & research groups, and solar pumps & microgrid businesses attended.

Currently, while the 60 GW target assigned for large scale solar is on track, the 40 GW target for rooftop solar is still to gather momentum, with only 2.4 GW of total rooftop capacity installed as of March 2018. [2]

“Net metered solar farm top installations are very similar to rooftop solar installations from a technical standpoint. However while rooftop solar PV systems take away high paying consumers from the grid, farmtop systems will actually reduce the agricultural subsidy burden for India’s cash-strapped power utilities. “Farmtops” are an excellent way to achieve scale across the country,” said Akhilesh Magal, Head – Advisory, Renewable Energy, Environment, and Energy Efficiency, GERMI.

A preliminary assessment shows that replacing 100% of all agricultural consumption in the next five years would require a total solar PV installed capacity of close to 150 GW. [3] This is far more than India’s solar target of 100 GW by 2022. Even achieving a modest 10% of this potential in the next five years would translate to a very significant commissioned capacity of almost 15 GW.

“Farmtops can revolutionize the way solar energy is deployed in the country. Issues that go with large solar parks such as land acquisition, setting up expensive transmission infrastructure, transmission losses and a host of other hassles can be avoided. The KUSUM scheme is timely and the Centre must work with all states to come out with a standard operating procedure (SOP) to facilitate smooth implementation”, added Magal.

The analysis also found that Maharashtra has the highest farmtop solar potential with 21.1 GW, followed by Karnataka (18 GW), Rajasthan (17.5 GW), Madhya Pradesh (14.9 GW), Gujarat (12.5GW),  Uttar Pradesh (10.8 GW) and Telangana (10.4 GW).

“To achieve its 2022 renewable energy targets, the government needs to look for creative ways of implementing decentralised renewable energy schemes. It’s clear that KUSUM is an innovative scheme that fits the bill, but unfortunately, it is yet to get cabinet approval and receive finance allocation,” said Pujarini Sen, Renewable Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace India.

The Finance Minister had mentioned the KUSUM scheme in his speech during the Union Budget in February 2018. Minister of Power, Mr. R K Singh had promised that the scheme would be rolled out in July, though disagreements with the Finance Ministry have also been reported.

 

“If promoted well, through feeder-level farmer institutions, grid-connected solar pumps can have multiple benefits: offer farmers a stable source of climate-proof income; incentivize farmers to become efficient energy and groundwater users; significantly reduce India’s annual farm power subsidy burden; improve the financial viability of India’s electricity utilities; significantly contribute to meeting India’s RE targets; and reduce the carbon footprint of India’s groundwater irrigation economy,” said Shilp Verma, IWMI-Tata Water Policy Program

 

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[1] Link to White Paper https://bit.ly/2AnYvHx

[2] Bridge to India, Solar Map, March 2018. http://www.bridgetoindia.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/BRIDGE-TO-INDIA-India-Solar-Map-March-2018.pdf

[3] The total power consumption in the Indian agricultural sector is 208,770 million units. The solar capacity required to replace this consumption is 148 GWh. Source, White Paper on Solar Pumps, Link in [1]

For further information please get in touch with:

Anindita Datta Choudhury|adattach@grenpeace.org| +919315608925; +919871515804

Jitendra Kumar| jkumr@greenpeace.org| +919868167337

Pujarini Sen| psen@greenpeace.org| +918586016050