The Government of India is preparing to launch the Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) program with an aim to solarize the agricultural sector using solar-powered water pumps and provide solar-powered electricity to rural areas, Minister of Power R.K. Singh announced in Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
A media release issued by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) said that the government is in the process of formulating the specifics of the KUSUM program. It is expected to provide for the installation of grid-connected solar power plants with up to 2 MW of capacity in rural areas. The program is also expected to provide for the installation of standalone off-grid solar water pumps to fulfill the irrigation needs of farmers who lack grid connections.
The program is also expected to help solarize existing grid-connected agriculture pumps to make farmers less dependent on the grid. This, in turn, would enable them to sell the surplus solar power they generate to Distribution Companies (DISCOMs) to generate extra income. Moreover, the program would also assist them in the solarization of tube-wells and lift irrigation projects for the government sector.
Agriculture is a power intensive sector that has taken a toll on the grid as successive governments have waived off bills or provided huge discounts (which the DISCOMs bear) to farmers for political gains. However, solar power has paved the way to change the prevalent trend and even reverse it by turning farmers into power producers.
The unveiling of the KUSUM program comes less than a year after that the Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (MAHAGENCO) invited bids to provide 1,500 MW of solar power for agriculture feeders across the state of Maharashtra, Mercom reported in June 2017.
In December 2017, the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL) also issued a tender to procure and set up 1,013 five horsepower (hp) solar-powered water pumps.
And most recently, in January 2018, the New and Renewable Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (NREDCAP) issued a tender to procure and set up 5,000 solar-powered water pumps in the state as part of the Off-Grid and Decentralized Solar Applications program.
Image credit: Vishwjeet
Saumy is a senior staff reporter with MercomIndia.com covering business and energy news since 2016. Prior to Mercom, Saumy was a copy editor at Thomson Reuters. Saumy earned his Bachelors Degree in Journalism & Mass Communication from the Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University. More articles from Saumy Prateek.