The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued guidelines to implement Component-C of Pradhan Mantri Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyaan (PM KUSUM) program that aims at promoting solar in agriculture with the help of grid-connected pumps.
Under Component-C of the program, 1 million grid-connected agricultural pumps of individual capacity up to 7.5 HP are targeted to go solar by 2022.
As per the provisions of the KUSUM program, initially, 100,000 grid-connected agricultural pumps will be converted to solar as a pilot project. After its evaluation, the project will be initiated in other states and union territories.
Component-C of PM KUSUM program is a new initiative aimed at ensuring reliable day time power supply for irrigation, reducing the subsidy burden on distribution companies (DISCOMs), and providing additional sources of income to the farmers.
In the recent past, the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and Karnataka have implemented pilot projects to test the technology and possible modes of operations for agricultural solar pumps.
Options to go solar
The ministry states that there could be two options for the solarization of agricultural pumps.
One is net metering, and the other is the standalone pump running only on solar power.
Under net metering, the agriculture pump will continue to run at the rated capacity with power from solar panels and balance of the power from the grid, if required. If the generation is higher than needed, the additional solar power will be fed to the grid.
In the case of the second option, the pump will only run on solar power as in the case of a stand-alone solar pump, and no power will be drawn from the grid for the operation of the pump. The existing motor pump will have to be replaced either with AC/DC solar water pumping system as per the MNRE’s specification for a standalone solar pump. When the pump is not running, the solar power can be fed into the grid through a suitable grid-tied inverter.
The MNRE’s guidelines further state that based on the experiences derived from the pilot projects conducted by these states – Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and Karnataka – other states are free to choose a combination of options to start similar projects.
Meanwhile, states can also come up with their system and implement it during the pilot phase, states the ministry.
The guidelines also state that the central government will provide Central Financial Assistance (CFA) up to 30% of the cost of solarizing the pump, including solar modules, module mounting structure, controller, inverter, the balance of system and others.
The CFA will be provided for the solarization of pumps up to 7.5 HP. The ministry also states that the solarization of pumps higher than 7.5 HP capacity is also allowed; however, the CFA in such cases would be limited to what is applicable for pumps with a capacity of 7.5 HP.
Depending upon the model adopted, the distribution companies will purchase solar power from the farmer at the rate decided by the respective state or state electricity regulatory commissions (SERCs).
After the identification of the feeders and implementation model, the information and awareness campaign for the farmers will be conducted by the implementing agencies.
The MNRE states that the systems installed under the program should meet technical specifications and construction standards as specified by BIS and MNRE from time to time.
The successful bidders will be responsible for the design, supply, and commissioning of adopted solarization systems for grid-connected agriculture pumps.
Lastly, it will be mandatory for the implementing agency to create a remote monitoring system to monitor the performance of the system post-installation.
In August 2019, the MNRE issued a memorandum for state-wise renewable energy capacity allocation under the KUSUM program for the farmers. The program, which has been divided into three components, is expected to help Indian farmers by providing them financial and water security through the mobilization of solar projects and solar-powered water pumps.
Mercom recently reported on the solar Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) segment complaining about these policies creating more hurdles rather than simplifying issues.
Image credit: USDA NRCS Montana [Public domain]
Anjana is a news editor at Mercom India. Before joining Mercom, she held roles of senior editor, district correspondent, and sub-editor for The Times of India, Biospectrum and The Sunday Guardian. Before that, she worked at the Deccan Herald and the Asianlite as chief sub-editor and news editor. She has also contributed to The Quint, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, Reader’s Digest (UK edition), IndiaSe (Singapore-based magazine) and Asiaville. Anjana holds a Master’s degree in Geography from North Bengal University, and a diploma in mass communication and journalism from Guru Ghasidas University, Bhopal.