In the order to reduce the consumption of fossil fuel and greenhouse gas emissions, the world is looking for energy conservation and renewable energy sources which can fulfil the sustainable energy needs of the future while maintaining the environment. In India, irrigating agricultural fields is an important consumer of energy. And therefore, it insists the policy-makers in the country to replace the fossil fuels or diesel based irrigation pumps with solar pumps.
India has scaled its non-fossil fuel-based power generations to 134GW, which is about 35 percent of the country’s total power generation. The Indian government has targeted to increase it to 220 GW by 2022. On September 08, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi informed at World Solar Technology Summit, “We want to take renewable energy to every village of our country. Our government has implemented a scheme named PM-Kusum that aims to replace the use of diesel in our farm sector with solar energy. Under this scheme, we have targeted the solarisation of 2.8 million irrigation pumps. Such schemes will not only benefit the environment, but also increase the income of our farmers.”
To reduce the consumption of diesel and electricity for agricultural irrigation, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Modi approved the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahabhiyaan (PM-Kusum) February 19, 2019. With a total Central financial support of Rs 34,422 crore, the scheme aims to add solar and other renewable capacity of 25,750 MW by 2022.
Kusum Scheme Salient Features
The PM Kusum scheme consists of three components.
- Component A: 10,000 MW of decentralised ground mounted grid connected renewable power plants of individual plant size up to 2 MW.
- Component B: Installation of 20 lakh standalone solar powered agriculture pumps of individual pump capacity up to 7.5 HP.
- Component C: Solarisation of 15 lakh grid-connected agriculture pumps of individual pump capacity up to 7.5 HP.
Under Component B, individual farmers will be supported to install standalone solar agriculture pumps of capacity up to 7.5 HP. Under PM Kusum scheme, 20 lakh farmers will be provided subsidy for setting up stand-alone solar pumps. Under Component C, another 15 lakh farmers will be helped to solarise their grid-connected pump sets. This scheme will enable farmers to set up solar power generation capacity on their barren lands and to sell it to the power grid.
Pradhan Mantri Kusum Yojana Implementation Guidelines
Under the guidelines for implementation of Component-C of PM Kusum scheme, the grid connected irrigation pumps can be solarised with Central and state subsidy of 30 percent each with 40 percent farmers’ contribution. The solar capacity allowed is upto two times of the pump capacity in kW and surplus power will be purchased by the distribution companies (DISCOMs). Since this component is being implemented on pilot mode, flexibility is given to the states for using different models like net-metering, replacing pumps with solar powered Brush Less DC (BLDC) pumps or any other innovative model as deemed fit by the states.
Enhancing Farmers’ Income
The objective of Component-C of PM Kusum scheme is to provide reliable day-time power to farmers, enhancing their income by purchasing surplus solar power and thus incentivising them for saving water. In case of feeder level solarisation, farmers will get daytime reliable solar power for irrigation, but there is no provision of selling surplus solar power. Therefore, farmers can be incentivised for saving water and enhancing their income. The DISCOMs will assess the average power requirement by farmers of an area depending upon various factors. This power requirement will be treated as their benchmark consumption. The DISCOMs will incentivise farmers for consuming power less than benchmark consumption. Such saving of power will be treated as surplus power injected by farmers and they will be paid by DISCOMs against this saved power at pre-determined tariff. This will encourage farmers to keep their consumption lower which would help conserve groundwater level.
Monitoring of PM Kusum Yojana
It will be mandatory for DISCOMs to monitor solar power generation and performance of the solar power plant through online system. The online data will be integrated with central monitoring portal which will extract data from the state portals for monitoring of the scheme.
PM Kusum – Tamil Nadu Takes the Lead
In Tamil Nadu, PM Kusum scheme is being implemented for installing 17,500 solar pumps to farmers through agriculture engineering department. Under this scheme, Central government is giving 30 percent subsidy, Tamil Nadu government is giving 40 percent subsidy and farmer has to bear 30 percent of the cost. Sanction has been obtained from Union government in October 2019 for installation of 17,500 off-grid standalone solar powered pumping systems from 5 HP to 10 HP capacity with a validity of one year period. The rates and the companies for the implementation of the scheme have been finalised by MNRE through centralised tender.
With 70 percent subsidy to the farmers, the programme had a target of installation of 4,000 solar powered pump-sets in Phase-1 during the year 2019-20 with the subsidy assistance of Rs.107.31 crore. It is proposed to implement the installation of 13,500 solar powered pump-sets in Phase 2, during the year 2020-21 with the subsidy assistance of Rs.365.54 crore.
While reducing the fossil fuel consumption, the scheme has tremendous opportunities for promotion of renewable energy in the hinterlands of the country, reducing farmers’ irrigation cost, helping in reduction of ill effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. At the time of economic slowdown, public sector expenditure plays important role for economic revival. Hence, for the private sector, PM Kusum scheme can boost the manufacturing industry engaged in making solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, batteries, solar irrigation pumps and other related accessories. Further, the scheme would create jobs in manufacturing as well as for field technicians at the grassroot level.