Tamil Nadu has proposed installing 5,000 solar pumps for which 70% subsidy will be provided, according to the state’s first-ever ‘agriculture budget’ recently presented to the Legislative Assembly.
Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare M R K Panneerselvam, presenting the ‘agriculture budget,’ said that the power demand for ‘well irrigation’ was on the rise, and an effective way to address the demand was to use solar-powered pumps.
To facilitate the same, the Chief Minster’s Solar Powered Pumpsets Program will be implemented, under which 5,000 solar pumps up to 10 horsepower (HP) capacity with 70% subsidy will be installed, with provision for off-grid, standalone solar powered pumping system.
The program will have an outlay of ₹1.14 billion (~$15.37 million) and utilize state and union government funds in 2021-22.
In November last year, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) passed an order setting a benchmark tariff of ₹2.28 (~$0.031)/kWh to set up 20,000 agricultural solar pumps under component-C of the KUSUM program.
The Commission also approved a ₹1 (~$0.013)/kWh incentive for farmers for exporting surplus energy back into the grid.
In his budget speech, the minister emphasized the importance of irrigation for profitable farming and declared that free electricity would be provided to 2.219 million electric motors used for farming.
He added that the government would pay ₹20,000 (~$270)/pump per annum to the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) on behalf of the farmers. The government will allocate ₹45.08 billion (~$608 million) to the TNEB.
A subsidy of ₹10,000 (~$134) will be extended to buy new electric motor pumps or replace the old, inefficient electric motor pumps for groundwater irrigation.
The subsidy would be extended to 1,000 farmers who own less than three acres of land with an outlay of ₹10 million (~$134,962).
Tamil Nadu is not favored by developers for the large-scale project development due to excessive power curtailment problems. The state’s DISCOM also had the highest backlog of overdue payments to power generators. The state is way behind meeting its renewable purchasing obligations. Integrating solar with agriculture is an innovative initiative that the state is exploring.
In January this year, the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) released a tender for 50 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects, including a 10 MW agro-PV component in Tamil Nadu. Agro PV projects involve developing solar projects and cultivating crops on the same plot. The projects provide the added benefits of shielding plantations from harsh sunlight and controlling weed growth.
Rahul is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Before entering the world of renewables, Rahul was head of the Gujarat bureau for The Quint. He has also worked for DNA Ahmedabad and Ahmedabad Mirror. Hailing from a banking and finance background, Rahul has also worked for JP Morgan Chase and State Bank of India. More articles from Rahul Nair.