Economy

Farm sector to generate more solar energy

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 13, 2020

Photovoltaic panels being cleaned at a solar power plant (file photo)   -  Reuters

Scaled up PM-KUSUM Scheme makes provision for smaller solar plants, more farmland

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has said that there will be greater solar energy generation from the farm sector under the expanded PM-KUSUM Scheme.

MNRE had issued an order for the scale-up and expansion of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evem Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) Scheme earlier this month. The new target is to achieve enhanced solar capacity of 30.8 Gigawatt (GW) by 2022 with revised Central financial support of ₹ 34,035 crore.

In a statement on Friday, MNRE said that after the scheme expansion, solar power plants can be installed on pasture land and marshy land of farmers besides barren, fallow and agricultural land. The size of solar plants has also been reduced to enable participation of small farmers.

MNRE had amended and clarified the implementation guidelines of the PM-KUSUM Scheme based on the learnings from the implementation of the scheme during the first year. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had approved the PM-KUSUM scheme in its meeting held on February 19, 2019.

MNRE scales up PM-KUSUM scheme goal to 30.8 GW of solar capacity by 2022

Three components

The scheme consists of three components. Component-A includes installation of decentralised ground-mounted grid-connected renewable power plants, Component-B includes installation of standalone solar-powered agriculture pumps and Component-C includes solarisation of grid-connected agriculture pumps.

In February 2019, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had approved the launch of PM-KUSUM. The scheme aims at providing financial and water security to farmers. The scheme aimed to add a solar capacity of 25,750 MW by 2022. The total Central financial support then supposed to be provided under the scheme was ₹34,422 crore.

After the revisions, under Component-A, scope has been increased by including pasture lands and marshy lands owned by farmers. Size of solar plants has been reduced so that small farmers can participate and the completion period increased from nine to twelve months. Further, penalty for shortfall in generation has been removed for ease of implementation by farmers.

Under component-B, for solar pumps to be set up and used by Water User Associations, Farmer Producer Organisations, Primary Agriculture Credit Societies, or for cluster-based irrigation system, the Central Financial Assistance will be allowed for solar pump capacity of higher than 7.5 Horsepower (HP) considering up to 5 HP capacity for each individual in the group.

Eligibility amended

The eligibility for participation in the centralised tender has also been amended to allow a joint venture of manufacturer of solar pump, solar panel, solar pump controller with integrators to bid.

This was done as, during the last bid, only solar pump and solar panel manufacturers were allowed to participate in the bid considering quality and post installation services for next five years. “During implementation it has been observed that these manufacturers lack workforce in the field and are dependent on local integrators for this purpose, which has caused delay in installation of solar pumps,” the statement said.

Published on November 13, 2020

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