The Union Budget 2020 has laid a major emphasis on use of solar energy for farming under the ambitious Pradhan Mantri-Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan (PM-KUSUM) scheme with finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman extending the scheme’s implementation with new targets.
“I propose to extend the scheme to allow 20 lakh farmers to set up standalone solar pumps. Also, 15 lakh farmers will be helped to solarize their grid-connected agricultural pumps. In addition, the scheme will allow farmers to set up grid-connected solar power generation capacity on fallow and barren land,” Sitharaman said in her budget speech in Parliament.
The PM-KUSUM scheme was launched by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) to support installation of off-grid solar pumps in rural areas and reduce dependence on grid, in grid-connected areas. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had in February 2019 approved the launch of the scheme with the objective of providing financial and water security.
Experts hailed the budget announcement. “The push to solar power (PM Kusum Scheme) in the agriculture sector is positive and builds on what has been started earlier. This will bring continuity and consistency in this program and can be transformational to the agriculture sector over the years,” said Santosh Kamath, Partner and Leader, Alternate Energies, KPMG in India.
Another expert said the announcement is a big push for solar power for farming and for fallow lands by extending the Kusum scheme. “This could potentially result in 10-15 GW of new capacity creation if it materializes.
This will be a big push for farmer’s income, but will in turn require lesser demand for grid scale power, targets for which then should be adjusted downwards,” said Anish De, Partner and Leader for Energy and Natural Resources KPMG in India.