Ministry of New & Renewable Energy has once again reiterated its promise to set up around 26 gigawatts solar power capacity in agriculture sector by 2022.
Minister RK Singh said that a huge portion of this capacity would be installed in the form of conventional land-based projects. 10 gigawatts of capacity will be set up at barren or fallow land available with the farmers. In addition, these projects would have 2 megawatt of capacity each. Farmers in India will be able to sell power from these projects to the retailers and earn some extra income. Also, farmers will get financial help in the form of capital subsidy.
Government will also support installation of off-grid solar pumps. Solar pumps are conventional irrigation pumps that are integrated with the solar panels. Irrigation is said to be the most energy-intensive activities in the farm sector & taking its substantial load off the grid very much improves the financial condition of retailers.
Power retailers in India are facing losses of hundreds of billions of dollars. One of the main reasons for this financial distress is supply of power at very low or at no cost at all. Because of political compulsions retailers have failed to hike tariffs for agricultural consumers.
Besides installation of new off-grid solar pumps, addition of solar panels to grid-connected irrigation pumps would also be undertaken.
About 1.75 million off-grid solar pumps will be set up and one million operational grid-connected irrigation pumps would be fitted with solar panels. These solar pumps & small land-based solar projects would be helpful to both retailers and farmers in India.
The Centre plans to provide subsidies worth Rs 344 billion for this initiative called Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan or PM-KUSUM. It has set a deadline to attain a 25.7 gigawatt target capacity by 2022.