India is an agriculture-based country. The agricultural sector provides a livelihood to over 50% of India’s population. In fact, the sector contributes 18% to the country’s GDP. However, the agricultural sector needs proper irrigation facilities and other amenities to reap proper benefits. The major constraint in this sector is farmers’ dependency on pumps for irrigation. Most of the farmers use pumps some of which are connected to the grid while some pumps run on diesel and other fossil fuels. According to a study conducted by KPMG, this sector consumes almost 20% of the installed power in India.
Another issue in this sector is related to the plight of farmers. Since some of the crops are seasonal, most of the farmers are deprived of regular source of income. Furthermore, farmers are not being able to earn anything from their dry/uncultivated land. Solar energy can be put to good use to address these critical issues of the agriculture sector.
Solar energy is one of the most vital renewable sources of energy that can be utilized for various purposes. Solar energy is widely being adopted in residential, commercial and industrial sectors and it has huge potential to benefit the agriculture sector. So, with an endeavour to offer financial and water security to farmers, the Indian government has launched various schemes to promote the installation of grid-connected solar power plants and solar pumps.
The scheme is divided into three different components – installation of standalone solar pumps, solarisation of grid-connected pumps and commissioning of grid-connected solar power plants. Through this scheme, the government targets to add 25,750 MW of combined solar capacities (all three components) by the year 2022.
Components of the new scheme The scheme has a total of three main components:
Component A – 10,000 MW of Decentralized Ground-Mounted Grid-Connected Renewable Power Plants of 500 kW to 2 MW individual plant size to be commissioned by 2022.
Component B – 17.50 lakh standalone solar powered pumps with capacity up to 7.5 HP to replace diesel-powered agricultural pumps.
Component C – 10 lakh grid-connected agricultural pumps with up to 7.5 HP individual pump capacity to be solarised by 2022.