Solar power could soon become the new cash crop for farmers

The Indian farmer will effectively bear only 10 per cent of cost for solarising his agricultural pump under a scheme unveiled in the Budget 2018-19, Power Minister R.K. Singh said.

In a post-budget media briefing here, Singh, also the New and Renewable Energy Minister, referred to the Rs 1.44 lakh crore scheme for solarising pumps of all farmers proposed by Finance Minster Arun Jaitley on Thursday while presenting his last full budget before the 2019 general elections.

Solar power could soon become the new cash crop for farmers, who can make an extra buck or two by switching to solar power for running irrigation pumps and selling surplus power to discoms.

All this will become possible because of heavy dose of funding promised in the Budget for ‘KUSUM’ (Kisan Urja Suraksha Utthaan Maha Abhiyaan) scheme. The refreshed version of the scheme doubles to 60% from 30% the subsidy for buying solar pumps. This will be equally borne by the Centre and states.

Farmers will have to bear 10% of the cost of solar pumps and will get loan from banks for the remaining part of the payment. All assistance will be transferred directly into the account of farmers. The refreshed scheme also provides 50 paise per unit as incentive to discoms for buying surplus power from farmers for five years.

The refreshed scheme envisages spending Rs 48,000 crore over the next 10 years to wean farmers away from diesel-run pumps and also convert grid-connected irrigation pumps to solar power for ensuring clean, reliable operation. India has 30 million farm pumps, including 10 million running on diesel.

The new version of KUSUM will aid total solar power generation capacity of 28,250 MW and entailing an investment of Rs 1.4 lakh crore over the next 10 years.
The plan will allow farmers to put barren land to use by allowing construction of solar power projects on them.

Altogether, 10,000 MW solar power capacity is envisaged to be built under the plan. The Centre reckons to install 17.5 lakh off-grid solar pumps. Grid-connected farm pumps, aggregating a capacity of 7,250 MW, would also be ‘solarised’. Grid-connected water pumps will be solarised. It is likely to take four years to solarise these pumps.
Source: TOI

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