How Agrisolar PV can be promoted through PM KUSUM Scheme
How Agrisolar PV Can Be Initiated through PM Solar KUSUM Scheme
India is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies with a population of over 1.3 billion people. The country is looking to leverage its immense potential for solar energy generation to meet its growing energy demands. The Government of India has launched a number of schemes and initiatives to promote the use of solar energy in the country, one of which is the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) scheme.
Launched in 2019, PM-KUSUM aims to promote the use of solar energy in the agricultural sector. The scheme seeks to set up grid-connected solar power plants in rural areas, with a combined capacity of 25,750 MW. It also includes the installation of 10,000 MW of decentralised solar power plants on individual farms and the installation of 17.5 lakh standalone solar pumps. The scheme aims to provide a reliable source of electricity to farmers, reduce their dependence on grid electricity, and promote sustainable agricultural practices.
However, the implementation of the scheme has been slow, with none of the tenders for the scheme being concluded so far. This is due to a number of reasons, including aggressive tariff rates, high-risk tenders, and the requirement for the use of Domestic Content Requirement (DCR) modules in the installations. Additionally, the slow uptake by farmers due to unfamiliarity with the scheme, lack of funds, and the unwillingness of banks to provide collateral for loans to farmers have been some of the challenges faced.
One solution to these challenges is the use of Agrisolar PV. Agrisolar PV is a technique that combines the use of solar panels with agriculture. Solar panels are installed above farmland, allowing the panels to generate electricity while the crops are grown underneath. This technique provides dual benefits of increased crop yield due to reduced soil erosion and shade, as well as the generation of electricity.
Initiating the use of Agrisolar PV through PM-KUSUM can be a solution to some of the challenges faced by the scheme. Farmers can benefit from both farming and the sale of excess solar energy generated on their land. The combined income from farming and solar energy generation can help farmers overcome the financial constraints of contributing 30% of the project’s equity. Banks could also view the dual income stream as a viable collateral, making it easier for farmers to secure loans.
To promote the use of Agrisolar PV under PM-KUSUM, the following measures can be taken:
- Simplify tripartite agreements with farmers: The government can work to simplify the tripartite agreements between farmers, developers and Discoms. Farmers can then quickly understand and sign these agreements, which will fast-track the initiation of the project.
- Removing ceiling tariffs: Ceiling tariffs set for the tenders can be removed to make the project commercially viable. This will increase developer confidence in the scheme and encourage more developers to participate.
- Incorporate a payment security mechanism: Including a payment security mechanism clause in tenders will address developers’ concerns regarding delayed payments and Discoms’ adherence to PPAs. This will increase developers’ trust in the scheme and encourage them to participate in tenders.
- Increase domestic solar module manufacturing capacity: The current domestic production capacity of solar modules is not sufficient to cater to the rising demand for DCR modules. The government can encourage domestic solar module manufacturing capacity, which will help in reducing the prices of DCR modules and make them more affordable for farmers.
- State-level plans: The government can encourage states with existing solar energy schemes to merge their schemes with PM-KUSUM to provide farmers with additional incentives to adopt solar energy.