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A Ray of Hope for Solar Powered Agriculture

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Author(s): Ashwin Gambhir, Shantanu Dixit Publication Date: July, 2015

The Government of India has announced an ambitious target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity addition by 2022. Solar power (100 GW) forms the mainstay of this target. This is further divided into large scale centralized power plants (50 GW) and distributed smaller scale projects (40 GW of rooftop mainly used by industrial, commercial and residential consumers and 10 GW grid-connected tail-end plants). This article, which appeared in the Hindu BusinessLine on 8th July 2015, suggests an approach of deploying tail end solar PV power plants (1-2 MWs in size) dedicated for agriculture in areas where feeder separation has taken place. These plants would be grid tied and would supply day time power for agricultural loads. Any excess generation from solar would flow back to the grid. If the agriculture load is high the differential would be provided by the grid. Such an approach would be significantly more cost effective as compared to individual solar pumps and is more likely to be successful with respect to integrating energy efficiency into agriculture power usage. These plants could be set up as standard PPA based projects, and hence would alleviate need for upfront subsidy and would also qualify for meeting DISCOMs' solar purchase obligation.

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