From SPaRC to SKY: Lessons from Gujarat’s solar journey

In May 2016, the world’s first solar cooperative was formed in Dhundi village, Gujarat comprising of 9 farmers with a total solar capacity of 56.4 kWp, where farmers could irrigate using solar energy and sell surplus energy to the grid at a tariff of Rs 4.63 per unit, with solar energy acting as an additional source of income. This highly successful experiment called “SPaRC” demonstrating the benefits of buy back models under grid connected solar was scaled up by the Government of Gujarat in the form of the Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY scheme) covering more than 4500 farmers with a total capacity of 106.47 MW and a Feed in tariff set at Rs. 3.5 per kW. With grid connected solar being scaled up across different states under PM KUSUM, it is crucial to examine how effectively scheme designs have encouraged farmers to sell excess energy and judicious pumping of groundwater.

In this conversation with Dr. Tushaar Shah, Emeritus Scientist at IRMA and IWMI, we discuss the benefits and challenges associated with SKY, it’s early impacts , and what needs to be done to ensure its continued success against the backdrop of parallel schemes offering similar incentives and its modified version under PM KUSUM.