25.75 GW farmland renewable with Rs 34,422 crore support approved

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The president of India has approved national funding of Rs34,422 crore for the installation of solar pumps and grid-connected renewable power plants under the Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthan Mahaabhiyan (KUSUM) rural solar scheme.

Through the KUSUM scheme, the government aims to add renewable capacity of 25.75 GW by 2022 by promoting the installation of 10 GW worth of decentralized, ground mounted, grid-connected renewable power plants as well as the deployment of 17.5 lakh standalone solar-powered agriculture pumps. The plan also includes the conversion to solar power of 10 lakh of grid-connected pumps.

The installation of renewable plants and ‘solarization’ of agriculture pumps – with capacities of up to 7.5 hp – will be undertaken through a pilot scheme for the rest of the year. The standalone solar-powered pumping systems will be rolled out without a pilot program.

The capacities to be implemented under the initial pilot programs are 1 GW of ‘ground or stilt mounted’ renewable power projects, and the conversion of 1,00,000 grid-connected agriculture pumps.

Central funding of Rs19,037 crore will be provided for a combined 10 GW capacity of pilot projects and for the solar-powered pumps plan. Upon completion, the pilot projects will be scaled up with additional project capacity of 15.75 GW and central funding of Rs15,386 crore.

Pump action

Under KUSUM, farmers and agricultural collectives can set up solar power plants of up to 2 MW capacity on barren or cultivable land.

“The power generated will be purchased by the DISCOMs [distribution companies] at feed-in tariffs determined by [the] respective State Electricity Regulatory Commission,” said a government statement about the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs funding decision last month. “The scheme will open a stable and continuous source of income to the rural landowners. Performance-based incentives of Rs0.40 per unit for five years will be provided to DISCOMs.”

The scheme helps farmers install standalone solar pumps with a capacity of up to 7.5 hp. There is also support to make grid connected pumps of the same size solar powered. A PV capacity of up to twice the pump capacity in kilowatts is allowed under the scheme.

“The farmer will be able to use the generated energy to meet … irrigation needs and the excess available energy will be sold to DISCOMs,” added the government statement. “This will help to create an avenue for extra income to the farmers, and for the states to meet their RPO [renewable purchase obligation] targets.”