November 9, 2012

2012: Highlight # 35

The desert state of Rajasthan is trying to leverage its abundant solar energy potential by offering an 86 percent subsidy on solar-powered irrigation pumps. Is the subsidy working? Tewari explores...

Solar Irrigation Pumps

The Rajasthan experience

Nidhi Prabha Tewari

Solar Irrigation pumps have been in India for over two decades. With rising prices of diesel and the vagaries agricultural power supply situation many farmers in Rajasthan have been considering solar energy as an alternative. Government of Rajasthan brought a new momentum in popularizing solar irrigation pumps by introducing 3 HP DC submersible pumps in an 86 percent subsidy driven scheme launched in 2011-12. The techno-economic performance of solar pumps has been uniformly positive; farmers we met could quantify financial benefits reaped, with most recovering their share of capital cost within a year. The administrative design of the subsidy scheme however leaves scope for improvement. This Highlight is a result of field visit to Rajasthan and interaction with administrators, Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) firms, dealers, politicians and farmers during the month of October-November 2012. Solar pumps are seen as a potentially powerful solution to government’s inability to provide agricultural power connections. Solar pump’s potential impact on excessive ground water extraction is not seen as a major concern by the policy makers. Interestingly farmers are seeing solar pumps as both a pumping and an energy solution.

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