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REIL to replicate solar pump coop model

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on February 19, 2018 Published on February 19, 2018

‘Pilot project in Gujarat a success’

Rajasthan Electronics & Instruments, which has pioneered the integrated solar water-pump farmers cooperative, plans to replicate its success in more villages in the country.

The success of the pilot project in Dhundi village in Gujarat has enthused the Jaipur-based Mini Ratna PSE to extend the novel concept to more villages jointly with the National Dairy Development Board.

‘Feasible solution’

The project is aimed at using solar water pumps as effective tools to improve irrigation, check groundwater use and raise farmers’ earnings through sale of power to utility companies.

AK Jain, Managing Director, REIL, said the pilot project has been a feasible solution to reduce agricultural power consumption from the grid, thus eliminating power subsidies that are inherent to the Indian power sector.

‘Income-generating asset’

“A solar pump is viewed not only as an irrigation asset but also an income-generating asset with potential to deliver a climate-proof, risk-free income stream. Solar crop offers them better income insurance than any other crop,” he said.

With initial worries about the land footprint of solar panels gone, farmers are experimenting with a range of high-value crops such as spinach, garlic, carrots, turmeric, etc, excited by the concept of revenue generation from solar power with a ready buyer and an assured price, Jain said.

Jain, who was in Kochi to attend the Dairy Industry Conference, told BusinessLine that ‘solarising’ the country’s electric tube wells through grid-connected micro-grid cooperatives with long-term power-purchase guarantee can help meet the target of 100GW solar capacity.

Advantages

Unlike rice farming and dairying that lead to huge carbon emissions, solar crop is carbon-emission-free and needs only two lakh hectares for solar panels, AK Jain added.

However, Jain admits the key challenge will be to arrive at the right number for the buy-back of power — a figure that is acceptable to both the farmer and the utility in a scenario of rapidly falling solar tariffs.

After its pioneering work on solar-water pumping since 2010, REIL is now focussing on irrigation, drinking, dairy and other possible integration for the benefits of farmers.

Published on February 19, 2018