The Gujarat government on Saturday launched a solar power scheme for farmers- Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY) enabling them to generate electricity for their captive consumption as well as sell the surplus power to the grid and earn an extra buck.

Announcing the pilot project of the scheme in Gandhinagar, chief minister Vijay Rupani termed it a revolutionary step towards empowering farmers to generate their own electricity using solar energy and help doubling their income.

As per the scheme, farmers having existing electricity connection will be given solar panels as per their load requirements. The State and Central governments will give 60 per cent subsidy on the cost of project. The farmer is required to take 5 per cent cost, while 35 per cent will be provided to him as an affordable loan with interest rates of 4.5-6 per cent.

The scheme duration is 25 years, which is split between 7-year period and 18-year period.

"For the first 7 years, farmers will get per unit rate of Rs 7 (Rs 3.5 by GUVNL + Rs 3.5 by state govt). For the subsequent 18 years they will get the rate of Rs 3.5 for each unit sold," said Saurabh Patel, State Energy Minister.

"This is a first such scheme in the country, where farmer would produce his power and sell the surplus to the State power utility," said the Chief Minister, adding that the work on the scheme will begin from July 2.

The scheme envisages setting up of separate feeders for agricultural solar energy consumption. Under the pilot project, which is likely to kickoff from July 2, about 137 feeders will be set up.

"As many as 12,400 farmers from 33 districts will be covered under the pilot project, which will generate 175 MW. The project cost is around Rs 870 crore," said Patel.

As of today, 22,704 MU or 26% of the total power consumption in the state is consumed by agriculture sector.

"This is one of the measures to achieve the goal of doubling farmer's income. Also, this will provide farmers 12-hours power supply during the day time, a demand farmers have been making for long," said Rupani addressing media here.