In a bid to promote renewable energy and expand the usage of solar power in irrigation, the Himachal Pradesh cabinet has approved ₹2.24 billion (~$32.6 million) for its ‘Saur Sinchayee Yojana’ program, which is expected to provide 5,850 agricultural solar pumping sets to farmers in the hilly state.
Under the program, 90 percent financial assistance will be provided to individual small and marginal farmers and an 80 percent subsidy will be given to individual medium and large farmers. One hundred percent financial assistance will be provided to a group of farmers belonging to the small and marginal category.
Mercom recently reported that the Gujarat government has announced a similar program called Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY), through which it would provide farmers with solar panels to generate solar power on their lands.
Addressing recent initiatives undertaken by the government on solar pumps, India’s Minister for Power, R. K. Singh, said in the Lok Sabha, “During the financial year (FY) 2017-18, a total of 96,376 solar pumps were sanctioned in various states for both irrigation and drinking water purposes, and 10 percent of the pumps were sanctioned to the states to be utilized for drinking water purposes.”
Currently, power required for the agricultural sector is either free or priced nominally, which doesn’t reflect the true cost of power. This is an added subsidy burden on state governments and respective distribution companies (DISCOMs).
Recently, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) set ₹85,000 (~$1,244.85)/horse power (HP) as the benchmark cost for solar pumps of up to 3 HP DC capacity in general category states, and ₹93,500 (~$1,369.33)/HP as the benchmark cost for the same solar pump in special category states (north eastern states, hilly states, and union territories).
Mercom had previously reported that under the KUSUM program, 2 MW of grid-connected solar power projects will be installed 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.
Image credit: By USDA NRCS Texas [Public domain or CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Ankita is an editor at MercomIndia.com where she writes and edits clean energy news stories and features. With years of experience in the news business, Ankita has a nose for news and an eye for detail. Prior to Mercom, Ankita was associated with The Times of India as a copy editor for the organization’s digital news desk. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Delhi University and a Postgraduate Diploma in journalism. More articles from Ankita Rajeshwari.