The recent launch of the Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) program to solarize India’s agriculture industry has been met with mixed responses. While some are lauding the government’s initiative, some are pointing out clauses and conditions that might affect the domestic solar industry adversely.
The latest response to the program has come from the National Solar Energy Federation of India that has written to the Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy, R.K Singh, suggesting several modifications that should be incorporated in the KUSUM program for smoother implementation.
The KUSUM program is expected to help Indian farmers by providing them financial and water security through the mobilization of solar projects and solar-powered water pumps. The program mandates the use of Indian manufactured cells and modules for the planned 25.75 GW of solar capacity to be deployed by 2022.
The program has been divided into three components:
- The first component under the program includes the installation of 10,000 MW of decentralized ground-mounted grid-connected renewable power projects.
- The second component will be the installation of 1.75 million standalone solar-powered agriculture pumps.
- The third component is the solarization of 1 million grid-connected solar-powered agriculture pumps.
Suggestions made by NSEFI under Component A:
NSEFI has suggested that there should be an alternative mechanism for Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) determination by State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs).
NSEFI has further requested that the benefit to farmer’s income from solar power generation should be quantified and added as a component in the FiT. Payment should be made to the farmer by the developer, and the developer can file receipt of payment made with the distribution company for validation.
Lastly, under component A, NSEFI says there should be a greater push for ‘agrivoltaic systems’ by specifying standards or guidelines in farmlands where solar and agriculture can be co-located.
Suggestions under Component B and C
NSEFI has advocated that the KUSUM can mandate domestically manufactured solar modules instead of cells. The main reason for this was that enabling only cell manufacturers would limit the implementation of the program. Further, if module manufacturers were allowed, it would enable medium and small-sized companies to participate.
NSEFI also mentioned that system integrators have better access to farmers and can be easily available for after-sales services; consequently, the government should amend the eligibility criteria allowing them to participate in the program. Last month, solar integrators had opposed the government’s move only to allow manufacturers to bid under KUSUM.
Other suggestion includes the provision for farmers to avail loan through Kisan Credit Card (KCC) or farmers credit cards for paying 40% of the cost for the solar pumps. Finally, NSEFI urged that a mechanism for speedy disbursal of subsidy to installers should be in place with strict directions on timely payment.
Recently, NSEFI, in a consultative session with industry stakeholders, had also expressed its concerns regarding the domestic content requirement (DCR) being mandated for the KUSUM program.
However, recently, in a letter addressed to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s (MNRE), the Indian Solar Manufacturers Association (ISMA), has expressed support for the government’s decision to utilize indigenous cells and modules in the implementation of the KUSUM program.
Image credit: eyeliam [CC BY 2.0]
Shaurya is a staff reporter at MercomIndia.com with experience working in the Indian solar energy industry for the past four years in various roles. Prior to joining Mercom, Shaurya worked with a renewable energy developer and a consulting company. Shaurya holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Management from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom.