CHENNAI: In an effort to bring down Tamil Nadu farmers' dependence on electricity, the state government has planned on a trial basis to set-up 20,000 solar systems that will be connected to water pumps.
If successful, this will majorly reduce the state discom's stress of providing subsidized electricity for farming. Farmers too will be able to increase their income as they can sell excess of solar energy produced back to the grid.
The project which is being implemented by Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) comes under the Central renewable energy ministry's scheme KUSUM.
As per the scheme, 10 lakh agriculture pumps in India that are currently connected to the electricity grid will be connected to a solar PV panel which will in turn set-up by each state government at the ground level.
According to Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission, there are around 21 lakh agriculture pumps in the state which can consume as much as 8,900 MW.
Out of 29,859 MW of electricity generated in the state in 2017, 30 per cent was used only by these pumps. Experts in the renewable energy sector said that this number can be cut down by more than half of the pumps work on solar energy.
TEDA will be installing 20,000 solar panels connected to the pump across seven to eight regions in the state, free of cost. Officials from TEDA said the unit cost of solar energy when sold to the common
gird and other important details are being discussed now. "By next month the project is likely to be finalised and MNRE has set a deadline of one year to complete it. We believe farmers will start using energy sources more responsibly and will switch off pumps when not in use," said a senior official.
Other than this, the Ministry of New and renewable Energy has also fixed a target of installing 18 lakh stand-alone solar pumps and setting up 10,000MW of decentralised solar power plants across the country.
Recently a report on this topic was complied by three organisations-World resource Institute, Auroville Consulting, Citizen consumer and civic Action Group. It has found that the state government saves only 86 percent with solar panel connected to the grid while the same system with an energy-efficient pump increases savings to 108 per cent.
"We have been discussing with the TEDA authorities to replace ordinary pumps with energy-efficient pumps. Also, if farmers change their method of irrigation by changing to precision and micro-irrigation,
their income and yield will increase substantially. But officials are apprehensive that if these pumps break down, new ones have to provided in their place," said Martin Scherfer, one of the authors from