How the KUSUM Scheme Hopes to Benefit Farmers
by Meeth Kumar
Posted on March 23, 2018 at 15:41 PM
As India looks to continue its rapid economic growth, it must adopt modern technologies at the grassroots level. In an age where renewable energy resources are becoming the norm, India aims to incorporate solar technology as a major source of electricity for agricultural practices. It is important that agriculture is modernized as early as possible since over 58% of rural households depend on agriculture as their primary means of livelihood. One area where ‘Solarization’ looks to be implemented is Irrigation.
The Central Government is currently formulating the KUSUM Scheme aimed at providing electricity through solar energy for rural India, with a specific focus on irrigation projects. KUSUM, which stands for ‘Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Maha-Abhiyan,’ was announced by Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley on Feb 1, 2018, in the Union Budget for the financial year 2018-19.
Mr R K Singh, Union Minister of State (IC) Power and New & Renewable Energy, provided detailed information on this scheme in the Lok Sabha on March 15, 2018. According to him, the main activities to be carried out under the KUSUM scheme and their advantages would include:
- Installation of grid-connected solar power plants of capacity up to 2 MW: with the objective of decentralized solar power production of up to 28,250 Megawatt (MW) over five years. This would reduce transmission losses and provide more electricity to rural areas with a shortage of power.
- Distribution and Installation of standalone, off-grid solar water pumps: to provide for the irrigation needs of farmers not connected to the grid. Farmers who need additional electricity for pumps but are not far away from a grid would benefit from this.
- Solarization of existing grid-connected agriculture pumps: existing pumps will be converted to standalone solar pumps to make farmers independent of grid supply. This would help farmers save electricity costs by generating their own electricity. Farmers would also be able to sell surplus solar power generated to DISCOMs (Electricity Distribution Companies) for extra income. This would also support the financial health of DISCOMs by cutting the burden of agricultural subsidy and support states in meeting their Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) targets.
- Solarization of Current Pumping systems: tube-wells and lift irrigation projects of the Government sector will be converted to solar-powered systems. Many diesel-powered pumps would be replaced with solar-powered machines, leading to a reduction in fossil fuel burning and pollution.
The KUSUM scheme is awaiting approval and the details on funding and mode of implementation will be decided once approval is granted. If implemented effectively, the scheme would achieve all the benefits it hopes to provide. Most importantly, it would accomplish its main objective of providing energy and water security to farmers of India.