India’s target to deploy about two million off-grid solar-powered irrigation pumps is making sluggish progress, with only one-eighth of the target achieved so far, according to a recent report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).
“Solar-powered irrigation is a huge opportunity for India. But, despite the clear multiple commercial benefits, the roll-out of solar pumps has been much slower than anticipated,” said Kashish Shah, author of the report and research analyst, IEEFA.
According to the report, the scheme should have accelerated solar pump deployment, but at the end of financial year 2019-20 a total of about 246,000 solar pumps were deployed and only 8,900 of these were installed in the 12 months after the scheme was launched in 2019.
By comparison the number of fossil-fuel-powered water pumps in India totals more than 8.8 million.
“Solar pumps would also reduce the burden on discoms of providing highly subsidised power to the agricultural sector. This could potentially even lead to reductions in tariffs for commercial and industrial consumers who cross-subsidise electricity for agriculture,” added Shah.
The report said that the key bottlenecks keeping the scheme from making headway included lack of coordination among the agriculture, water and power state government bodies involved in implementation, difficulties for farmers, and access to investments.
“When it comes to the implementation of the scheme by the states, it’s a case of one size does not fit all