The Himachal Pradesh government has approved its “Saur Sinchayee Yojana” programme, worth Rs 2.24 billion to provide agricultural solar pumping sets to farmers in the state. The programme, which is aimed at promoting renewable energy and expanding the usage of solar power in irrigation, is expected to provide around 5,850 solar pumps to the farmers.
Under the programme, financial assistance amounting to 90 per cent of project cost will be provided to individuals falling under small and marginal category. An 80 per cent subsidy will be given to individual farmers falling under medium and large category.
States are now actively promoting the use of solar energy in the agriculture sector, to ensure reliable power supply for water pumping activities to increase crop yield. In addition, currently, solar pumps could help reduce the subsidy burden on discoms and state governments caused by the marginal electricity tariffs set for the agricultural sector.
During the financial year 2017-18, a total of 96,376 solar pumps were sanctioned in various states for both irrigation and drinking water purposes. The MNRE has set Rs 85,000 per horse power (HP) as the benchmark cost for solar pumps of up to 3 HP DC capacity in general category states, and Rs 93,500 per HP as the benchmark cost for the pumps in special category states (north eastern states, hilly states, and union territories). Many states have now rolled out such schemes to promote solar-based irrigation. Recently, the Gujarat government recently announced a programme called “Suryashakti Kisan Yojana” to provide solar panels to farmers for generating clean and low-cost energy on their lands.