Farmers can now generate, sell solar power to government

A 10kV facility can fetch them Rs 50,000 a year

Farmers can now generate, sell solar power to government

Energy Minister D K Shivakumar on Monday announced a new scheme, called ‘Surya Raita’, under which farmers will be encouraged to generate solar energy and sell power to the government at a profitable rate.

A farmer having a 10 kV solar power facility can earn up to Rs 50,000 a year by selling excess power to the government. It is after using power for her/his own use.

About Rs one lakh needs to be invested to instal one kV of solar power. A dedicated feeder will be installed for this purpose. A government order on launching the scheme will be issued in a day or two, he told reporters.

Farmers wishing to use solar power for Irrigation Pump (IP) sets are entitled to subsidy under various schemes of the State and the Central governments.
The State Energy department, for instance, offers 90 per cent subsidy and the Agriculture department 50 per cent subsidy.

In the first phase, the government has set a target of bringing at least 3,000 IP set farmers in Karnataka under this scheme in the current financial year, the minister added.

Farmers’ solar power facility will be connected to the grid. These grid-connected solar power-generating units will be provided with net metering facility to keep a record of power supplied to the grid.

The government will pay Rs 9.56 per unit of solar power (generated without obtaining the subsidy) and Rs 7.20 per unit (if any government subsidy is obtained), Shivakumar explained.

Win-win situation

The minister claimed that the scheme was a win-win situation for the government as well as farmers.

For the government, the power subsidy burden will come down, while farmers will not only get quality power supply but also an alternative source of income. The power subsidy, mainly for supplying free power to 10 HP IP sets, is estimated at Rs 7,200 crore in the current financial year, he added.

Many nationalised banks have shown interest in extending financial assistance to farmers under the scheme. Officials of the Energy department are holding talks with bank representatives to ensure farmers get loans at low interest rates. The Centre has announced 30 per cent subsidy to about one lakh IP sets in the current year.

About 10,000 IP sets may benefit from the Centre’s scheme, the minister said.

When asked whether the government was planning to discontinue free power supply to IP sets, Shivakumar stressed that there was no such plan. The aim is to promote solar energy in a big way and help farmers get quality power supply, he asserted.

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