With fast depleting fossil energy resources, the need for alternate sources of energy has been the talk of the time and is also at the top of the agenda of various governments nationally and internationally. Government of India under its national solar mission is focussing on solar energy to meet the energy demand of the country with a long term vision and has allocated substantial funds for harnessing solar energy.
Solar power is considered to be the best form of energy as it is universally available in abundance. Identifying the huge potential for solar energy space, many companies are working on solar technology development that can effectively harness solar power for various applications. One of the potential areas for solar energy is its application in water pumping. It is a known fact that Indian farmers are largely deprived of grid power due to lack of grid connectivity, erratic monsoon and unsteady power supply. This condition adversely impacts the agriculture productivity.
The concept of solar water pumping now has become a viable solution with technological progress in this sector particularly in power electronics. Now solar energy can be tapped and used more effectively than ever before including solar powered water pumping. This has opened up tremendous new opportunities to the stakeholders and Indian farmers are direct beneficiaries of this initiative.
However, since huge number of villages are yet to have access to grid electricity, it is pertinent to think of establishing standalone/grid connected solar water pumping systems to make agriculture a viable occupation for the rural folk reducing the dependability of grid power which will again be subjected further development of distribution and transmission infrastructure.
Another major area of concern is the extreme inefficiency of old agricultural pumps operating currently in farms (which waste 85-90% of grid input power as per FICCI survey). Switching to solar pump would be the best and effective solution which can stop energy wastage and would save crores of rupees as against current high energy consuming pumps. India has 18 million electrical agri-pumps, 9 million diesel agri-pumps and about 5 million farmers are in the wait list of 3 phase electrical connection for running their agri-pumps. As per government of India’s website, official figure for un-electrified and partially electrified villages in India crosses 4 lakh.
Given the power situation in rural India, a standalone solar water pumping system can really be a blessing even to the remotest terrains of the rural India where there is no grid connectivity. This is a big idea and a major differentiating factor if the governments consider allocation of enough funds for solar water pumping segment. If the government has enough budget and feasible funding plan for large scale adoption of solar pumps, it can make revolutionary changes in Indian agricultural landscape improving the quality of life in the rural India bringing cheers to farming community and positive impact on GDP.
Policy initiatives in this context will be a determining factor for the growth and prosperity of energy starved Indian villages. This will enhance the area of cultivation thereby improving agricultural production and better livelihood to farmers on a national scale. Switching to solar powered water pumping will help the environment hugely as it can reduce the emission of millions of tonnes of carbon that would have been released into the atmosphere during conventional power generation in line with Paris Environment Summit.
Since solar energy has emerged as the major renewable energy source in India, it is important that this sector gets due attention from various government/agencies/stakeholders to make solar power affordable and accessible to meet the energy needs of agricultural pumps which is estimated to be 50,000MW annually assuming average agri pump rating at 2HP.
With current pace of electrification in the country, grid electricity access will be a distant dream to many farmers and in this context it assumes great significance for the government to choose solar energy as a sustainable option for growth with due focus on solar powered water pumping for rural and remote areas of the country.
Identifying huge potential and scalability, Shakti Pumps (I) Ltd., the largest manufacturer and exporter pumps and motors in India for the last 5 years diversified into solar segment and has developed uniquely designed high efficiency solar water pumps operated on solar energy and became the front runner in solar pumping business. Development of solar water pumping system is an innovative idea which has the power to transform the rural India generating more employment opportunities in agriculture, increased agricultural production, better quality of life, increased income to farmers, impacting the GDP. In other words, extensive use of solar pumping systems will improve the demand-supply gap and can save huge expenditure on additional capacity building.
Grid connected solar pump would be another alternative where surplus power generated by solar pumping system can be fed directly to the grid that will substantially reduce burden of energy bills. Scaling up of solar powered pumps across India needs attention of the government, energy bodies and other stakeholders so that it positively impacts agriculture, government power subsidies, employment, livelihood and environment. Being a leader in this segment Shakti Pump is fully equipped to meet any demands of solar powered water pumps from domestic or overseas markets with an installed capacity of 5 lakh pumps per annum including solar powered pumps.