Recently, central government came out with guidelines for implementation of feeder-level solarisation.
The eligibility for participation in the centralised tender has also been amended to allow a joint venture of manufacturer of solar pump, panel, and solar pump controller with integrators to bid.
But the fact is that manufacturers lack workforce in the field and are dependent on local integrators for this purpose, which has caused delay in installation of solar pumps.
Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan:
- “The farmer focus of PM-KUSUM has given a fillip to the farmer-oriented scheme involving decentralised solar power production up to 28,250 MW over a period of five years, known as KUSUM Scheme.
- The Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) scheme would provide additional income to farmers, by giving them the option to sell additional power to the grid, through solar power projects set up on their barren lands.
- Government’s Budget for 2020-21 expanded the scope for the scheme — with 20 lakh farmers to be provided assistance to install standalone solar pumps; another 15 lakh farmers to be given help to solarise their grid-connected pumpsets; and
- Enabling farmers to set up solar power generation capacity on their fallow/barren lands and to sell it to the grid.
- While all this was happening, it also generated a serious debate on depleting water tables. As an environmentalist said, anything that is available free of cost, has its disadvantages.
What are the objectives of KUSUM? And what happens when there are similar schemes already existing in States?
PM-KISAN consists of three components and aims to add a solar capacity of 30.8 GW by 2022:
- Component-A: 10,000 MW of decentralised ground mounted grid connected renewable power plants.
- Component-B: Installation of two million standalone solar powered agriculture pumps.
- Component-C: Solarisation of 1.5 million grid-connected solar powered agriculture pumps.
The total central financial support provided under the scheme would be ₹34,000 crore.
The objectives are:
- Promote decentralised solar power production;
- Reduce transmission losses;
- Support the financial health of DISCOMS by reducing the burden of subsidy to the agriculture sector;
- Help States meet the RPOs (renewable purchase obligation) targets;
- Promote energy efficiency and water conservation;
- Provide water security to farmers through provision of assured water sources through solar water pumps — both off-grid and grid connected;
- Provide reliable power to utilise the irrigation potential created by State irrigation departments; and
- Fill the void in solar power production in the intermediate range between rooftops and large parks.
PM-KUSUM scheme benefits:
- The scheme will open a stable and continuous source of income to the rural land owners for a period of 25 years by utilisation of their dry/uncultivable land.
- Cultivated fields are chosen for setting up solar power project, the farmers could continue to grow crops as the solar panels are to be set up above a minimum height.
- Scheme would ensure that sufficient local solar/ other renewable energy-based power is available for feeding rural load centres and agriculture pump-set loads, which require power mostly during the day time.
- As these power plants will be located closer to the agriculture loads or to electrical substations in a decentralized manner, it will result in reduced Transmission losses for STUs and DISCOMS.
- The solar pumps will save the expenditure incurred on diesel for running diesel pump and provide the farmers a reliable source of irrigation through solar pump apart from preventing harmful pollution from running diesel pump.
Sounds brilliant, but success lies in implementation:
- Consensus between the Centre and States is the key to the success of this decentralised solar power scheme.
- Any reform in India’s power space cannot take place unless there is consensus between the Centre, States and stakeholders. Till then, it will be like a half-baked cake.
- According to the Ministry, India has 30 million agriculture pumps, of which, 22 million are electric and eight million are diesel operated.
- Electricity for agriculture is highly subsidised and is often termed as the main cause for rapid groundwater depletion and poor financial position of DISCOMs.
- Annual electricity consumption for agriculture is around 200 billion units, which is 18 per cent of total electricity consumption.
- Covid-19 did slow the progress during first half of 2020-21, but now its on track again.
- For effective implementation and serious participation by stakeholders, the scheme should be more attractive in terms of benchmark prices in view of the challenges on account of higher costs of implementation and comprehensive maintenance.
The Scheme will have substantial environmental impact in terms of savings of CO2 emissions.
All three components of the Scheme combined together are likely to result in saving of about 27 million tonnes of CO2 emission per annum.
Further, Component-B of the Scheme on standalone solar pumps may result in saving of 1.2 billion litters of diesel per annum and associated savings in the foreign exchange due to reduction of import of crude oil.
The scheme has direct employment potential. Besides increasing self-employment, the proposal is likely to generate employment opportunity equivalent to 6.31 lakh job years for skilled and unskilled workers.