Category Name - Sustainable is Attainable26 Apr 2023Back

Could Decentralised Renewable Energy Technologies Empower India's Farmers?

By Tata Power
Could Decentralised Renewable Energy Technologies

India is seeing a sharp increase in energy consumption, which is being driven by both economic expansion and rapid population expansion. India has set a target of becoming net zero by 2070 in order to grow sustainably. However, this will require India to reduce its net carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes by the year 2030, which is a challenging goal to achieve.

One of the many industries experiencing growth is agriculture which is predicted to increase to US$ 24 billion by 2025. As per First Advance Estimates for FY 2022-23 (Kharif only), total food grain production in the country is estimated at 149.92 million tonnes.

India is also one of the major players in the agriculture sector worldwide and it is the primary source of livelihood for about 58% of India's population. Thus, farmers also become an integral part of the sector.

However, the World Bank predicts that India will see unusual and unprecedented spells of hot weather, more frequently and covering much larger areas. It also predicts that we can expect drier years to be drier, and wet years wetter.

This increases our dependence on groundwater, and therefore, on groundwater pumps. Out of the total electricity consumed in the country, 20% of the electricity is used for agriculture practices, mostly in irrigation. For farmers who rely on grid-connected pumps, especially during the summer months, this can be an exercise in frustration: power cuts during the day, when watering is needed, and power supply at night, when watering can't be done. Farmers have taken 12 million electricity connections and 9 million diesel pump sets to pump up groundwater for irrigation.

Farmers turn to diesel-powered pumps, only to find that not only do these pumps inflate their costs, but are also prone to breakdowns. These inflate costs further and often lead to costly delays which ultimately affect crop yield. Moreover, diesel-powered pumps are also notorious for their outsized output of smoke and particulate matter. In essence, it's a solution that doesn't work well and creates another host of problems.

Solar Pumps wipe the slate clean. Once installed, a solar pump runs like clockwork, matching its output to when it is needed most: the sunny summer months. No more stress when the power goes out, no more trips to buy diesel (and no more expensive diesel costs!), and no more unexpected and messy breakdowns either. Moreover, solar pumps are a dream to maintain.

The biggest fillip to Solar Pump adoption comes from the PM-KUSUM (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan) Scheme which aims at creating energy security for Indian farmers while also contributing to the share of installed capacity from non-fossil-fuel sources. Under this scheme, individual farmers will be supported to install standalone solar agriculture pumps of up to 7.5 HP capacity in off-grid areas. The aim is to install 20 Lakh pumps by March 2026. Under this scheme, the farmer bears just 40% of the total cost, and within that 40%, up to 30% can be availed through bank finance.

As always, the devil lies in the details, and this is where the GoI needed strong industry partners for implementation. Tata Power, India's No.1 Solar EPC company for the last 8 years was an obvious choice of partner. Tata Power has installed over 85000 pumps across India, under the PM KUSUM scheme. For context, by replacing just 1 million diesel pumps with solar ones, we can expect to mitigate the usage of 9.4 billion litres of diesel, which translates into direct savings for farmers. It also helps us save 25.3 million tonnes of CO2.

Tata Power offers high quality reliable products and services for the Solar Pumps. Tata Power Solar Pumps come in both DC and AC ranges of Solar Water Pumps in both Surface and Submersible categories. Not only do they have a range of offerings, but the company also vouches for the quality and life of its products. The solar modules have a warranty of 25 years with over 0.1% warranty claim over 2 decades. The solar pumps also come with safety features such as reverse polarity, low voltage and lightening arrestor, and dry runs that ensure the consumer's protection. Moreover, Tata Power also provides assistance in the paperwork and best-fit maximising for the customer's optimum benefit, providing a comprehensive installation experience to simplify the transition from conventional diesel-powered pumps to solar pumps.

Companies like Tata Power are making decentralized renewable energy technologies easily accessible to 'Bharat', thereby enabling the smallest communities of the country to partake in the country's sustainable action. Reducing energy usage from fossil fuel sources and moving towards renewables, will not only reduce carbon footprints in the agriculture sector but also enhance the livelihoods of key stakeholders such as the farming community of the country.

With strong industry partners like these, India's ambitious net zero targets, emissions targets, and green energy targets are being rendered achievable. As our installed capacity for renewable power grows, Indian businesses will be able to make a seamless switch to green power, giving Indian products an equal platform in a global marketplace - particularly where regulations such as Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) are concerned.

Moreover, India will achieve what developed, western countries have been unable to so far: create more jobs, more industry, and more wealth, while reducing emissions, improving air quality, and being kinder to the planet.