The Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) has invited online applications from farmers, panchayats (village councils) for the installation of solar pumps for agricultural irrigation in the state.
The solar pumps – both surface and submersible – will be in the capacities of 3, 5, 7.5, and 10 horsepower (HP).
PEDA has called for these applications under Component-B of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) program. Under this component, the plan is to install 1.75 million standalone solar-powered agriculture pumps of individual capacity up to 7.5 HP.
The agency noted that 4,600 online applications for 4,500 solar pumps would be accepted. The additional 100 applications will be waitlisted in case a selected farmer drops out. It said that applications, along with required documents, must be submitted before July 27, 2020.
PEDA explained that the solar pumps will be allocated to eligible farmers on a first-come-first-serve basis and that preference would be given to farmers with micro irrigations systems (drip or sprinkler type).
It also provided a list of 22 safe groundwater blocks it has identified for the installation of these pumps and invited applications from interested farmers, panchayats, government institutions, farmers, producer organizations, water user associations. It also permitted farmers from other blocks (dark zones) of the state to send in their applications.
The Government of Punjab also said it would provide a 30% subsidy to general category farmers and 50% to scheduled caste (SC) farmers on top of the 30% subsidy from the central government. General and scheduled caste farmers will have to contribute to only 40% and 20% of the total costs, respectively.
PEDA provided a breakup of costs involved and the share of costs farmers have to bear after central and state subsidies for different capacities of solar pumps:
PEDA said that, in line with the guidelines of the PM KUSUM program, these pumps must be mainly installed in the safe groundwater blocks for all types of irrigation. In dark zones blocks, they must be installed only to replace diesel pumps that are being used in micro irrigation systems.
Recently, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy issued guidelines for installing innovative standalone solar pumps to promote technological innovation in the sector. The guidelines were issued after it received input from industry stakeholders and innovators who claimed that using different software and designs could make solar pumps more efficient in terms of cost and performance than the ones specified by the Ministry. The MNRE has permitted the installation of these pumps in test mode. The guidelines apply to all Indian innovators, manufacturers, and service providers who intend to install standalone solar pumps under the MNRE’s programs.
Earlier, finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, announced that the government plans to expand the KUSUM program to help two million farmers to set up standalone solar agricultural pumps and 1.5 million farmers to set up grid-connected pumps. Under the program, farmers with fallow lands would be able to generate solar power to sell to the grid.
Image credit: JREDA
Nithin is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Previously with Reuters News, he has covered oil, metals and agricultural commodity markets across global markets. He has also covered refinery and pipeline explosions, oil and gas leaks, Atlantic region hurricane developments, and other natural disasters. Nithin holds a Masters Degree in Applied Economics from Christ University, Bangalore and a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from Loyola College, Chennai.