Solar Farming Current Affairs
Gujarat government has launched Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY), solar power scheme for farmers enabling them to generate electricity for their captive consumption as well as sell surplus power to grid and earn extra buck. It is claimed to be first such scheme in the country, where farmer will produce his power and sell surplus to State power utility.
The pilot project of the scheme will kickoff from July 2018 and about 137 feeders will be set up. It will cover as many as 12,400 farmers from 33 districts. The project cost is around Rs 870 crore and it will generate 175 MW.
Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY)
The scheme aims at empowering farmers of state to generate their own electricity using solar energy and help doubling their income. Under it, farmers of state having existing electricity connection will be given solar panels as per their load requirements. It envisages setting up of separate feeders for agricultural solar energy consumption.
Cost Sharing: The State and Central governments will give 60% subsidy on cost of project. The farmer is required to take 5% cost, while 35% will be provided to him as affordable loan with interest rates of 4.5 to 6%.
Duration of scheme: It is 25 years, which is split between 7-year period and 18-year period. For first 7 years, farmers will get per unit rate of Rs 7 (Rs 3.5 by state power utility + Rs 3.5 by state government). For the subsequent 18 years they will get rate of Rs 3.5 for each unit sold.
The Union Government has announced Rs.1.4 lakh-crore Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyan (KUSUM) scheme for promoting solar farming i.e. decentralised solar power production of up to 28,250 MW to help farmers. The Union Budget 2018-19 has allocated Rs. 48,000 crore for the scheme for the ten-year period.
KUSUM scheme will start with building 10,000 MW solar plants on barren lands and providing 1.75 million off-grid agricultural solar pumps. It will provide extra income to farmers, by giving them an option to sell additional power to grid through solar power projects set up on their barren lands. It will help in de-dieselising the agriculture sector as India had about 30 million farm pumps that include 10 million pumps running on diesel. The surplus electricity generated by farmers will be bought by state electricity distribution companies (discoms). Thus it will help boost the country’s emerging green economy.
Components of scheme
- Building 10,000 MW solar plants on barren lands
- Providing sops to DISCOMS to purchase the electricity produced,
- Solarising existing pumps of 7250 MW as well as government tube wells with a capacity of 8250 MW
- Distributing 17.5 lakh solar pumps.
Government will provide 60% subsidy on solar pumps to farmers. It will be shared between Centre and States while 30% will be provided through bank loans. The balance cost will be borne by farmers.
It will promote decentralised solar power production, reduce of transmission losses of discoms as well as provide support to improve financial health of DISCOMs by reducing subsidy burden to agriculture sector. It will also promote energy efficiency and water conservation and provide water security to farmers.