Solar Irrigation

‘Solar Irrigation in India’ Knowledge Portal

Till about 2009-10, almost all of the couple of thousand solar irrigation systems installed in India were for ‘technology demonstration’. These were implemented in controlled, academic environments with the objective of establishing technical feasibility of pumping water for irrigation using solar energy. Financially, solar technologies were considered unviable, especially for agriculture with high energy demand and limited purchasing power of small farmers. Not many people could have imagined what happened in the next decade.

Between 2010 and 2020, the number of solar irrigation pumps in India grew to more than 250,000 through a mix of improvements in panel efficiency, declining unit prices and aggressive government support. As the numbers continue to grow, our understanding of their functioning, technical and financial business models, impact on agriculture and water resources, promotional strategies, and institutional capacity requirements are also growing. In 2018, acknowledging the potential of ‘solar irrigation’ in reshaping India’s massive irrigation economy, the Government of India announced KUSUM (later, PM-KUSUM; Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahabhiyan) which now boasts of an ambitious target of installing more than 3.5 million solar irrigation pumps over the next few years.

Featured Articles
July 8, 2021 A compilation of different state level solar irrigation policies provides a quick snapshot of institutional development of solar irrigation in India.
Different solar irrigation policies in India (Image: IWMI)
March 19, 2021 IWMI’s novel experiment in Chakhaji village
Yatin Kumar, one of the early solar irrigation entrepreneurs in Chakhaji (Image: IWMI)
January 28, 2016 What will it take for the Haryana government to switch 7 lakh groundwater pumps to solar powered options so it can lower its energy footprint and contain losses in the energy sector?
Better incentives needs to be provided to farmers to use solar pumps for tubewells in Haryana
August 28, 2015 North Rajasthan is making good use of subsidies for micro irrigation and solar water pumps but can this sustain?
Farmer Sunil Bishnoi has seen a five times rise in income from his farm thanks to drip irrigation.
July 19, 2015 Are solar pumps a drought mitigation strategy for farmers in Bihar? This research paper looks into the interplay between droughts, subsequent distress and government interventions.
Solar panels in a farm (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
July 3, 2015 Karnataka's Surya Raitha scheme provides farmers with cash income for “growing” solar energy as a remunerative cash crop, to prevent overusing solar powered pumps for groundwater extraction.
Solar power use in a Tamil Nadu farm (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Solar irrigation policies in India
A compilation of different state level solar irrigation policies provides a quick snapshot of institutional development of solar irrigation in India. IWMI posted 3 months 2 weeks ago

Solar pumps and solar irrigation are not new to India as the first program to install solar pumps started close to three decades back in 1993

Different solar irrigation policies in India (Image: IWMI)
Are solar powered irrigation systems scalable in India?
Compendium on solar-powered irrigation in India Amita Bhaduri posted 7 months 1 week ago

Article by: Sakshi Saini and Paresh B Shirsath

 Solar power has huge potential for application in the agriculture sector, especially in the irrigation space. (Image: IWMI)
Energising Bihar’s agriculture
IWMI’s novel experiment in Chakhaji village Amita Bhaduri posted 7 months 1 week ago

With small and fragmented land holdings, owning a well and pump is not a viable option for all farmers.

Yatin Kumar, one of the early solar irrigation entrepreneurs in Chakhaji (Image: IWMI)
Solar pumps solve irrigation trouble
Solar irrigation pumps have been hailed as a one stop solution to meet the irrigation needs of the farmers as they provide sustainable energy at a cheap price. Amita Bhaduri posted 2 years 7 months ago

Agriculture in Bihar has languished primarily because of high input costs, especially that of energy due to inadequate grid electricity supply and a high price of diesel. Rural electrification through grid supply is not happening in Bihar due to lack of public investment. Also, the existing groundwater markets are neither increasing irrigation nor achieving equity.

New employment has been created as a result of the pilot in the form of the S-ISPs and their operators which will increase considerably if the project is scaled up. (Image: IWMI)
Solar mamas to light up their homes
A Rajasthan institute trains women from inaccessible villages of poor countries to make their villages solar energy efficient. Amita Bhaduri posted 3 years 11 months ago

In her mid-30s, Lino Lameko works as an assistant at the office of the national women’s council in Funafuti, the capital of Tuvalu. She has come all the way from the Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean to Tilonia, a small village located in Ajmer in Rajasthan to become a “barefoot solar engineer”.

Over 1000 women from all over the world have come to Barefoot College to become barefoot solar engineers. (Image: Barefoot College)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Solar water pumps
What are solar water pumps? What are their advantages over traditional water pumps? Here are the answers to all your questions on solar water pumps. Swati Bansal posted 4 years 6 months ago

This is a simple guide that answers some of the most popular questions related to solar water pumps. This list of Q&A will help you understand what they are and their growing importance these days. Please click on a question for detailed information.

Submersible pumps of 2HP (Source: Sehgal Foundation)
Solar water pumps for efficient irrigation
Solar pumps are cost-effective, environment-friendly and have good potential in places with high water table. Sehgal Foundation, that piloted 14 solar pumps in two districts of Bihar, shows how. seetha@indiawaterportal.org posted 4 years 8 months ago

Irrigation system in India is often about big dams and hundreds of kilometres of canals that incur huge capital expenditure. Hence, policies at the central and the state level are mostly tilted in favour of big projects and often neglect micro-level solutions.

Zero tillage machine mounted on a tractor.
Pumping up hopes the solar way
What will it take for the Haryana government to switch 7 lakh groundwater pumps to solar powered options so it can lower its energy footprint and contain losses in the energy sector? Amita Bhaduri posted 5 years 9 months ago

Haryana's agriculture sector uses seven lakh tubewells, most of which are connected to the grid as the state has a policy of providing highly subsidised electricity to farmers costing Rs. 6200 crore a year. As a result, groundwater exploitation is rampant.

Better incentives needs to be provided to farmers to use solar pumps for tubewells in Haryana
Rajasthan's micro saviours need macro plans
North Rajasthan is making good use of subsidies for micro irrigation and solar water pumps but can this sustain? Manu Moudgil posted 6 years 1 month ago

As we leave behind the smooth, straight drive of NH 89 and take a dirt path that whirls around a few miles of undulating desert grassland, we end at a large patch of emerald green which looks outlandish. “The reason for such a spectacle in these harsh conditions lies close to the ground,” says Ravinder Chhabra, my local guide in Bikaner.

Farmer Sunil Bishnoi has seen a five times rise in income from his farm thanks to drip irrigation.
Harness the sun to drought proof agriculture in Bihar
Are solar pumps a drought mitigation strategy for farmers in Bihar? This research paper looks into the interplay between droughts, subsequent distress and government interventions. sabitakaushal posted 6 years 3 months ago

Since 1999, Bihar has borne the brunt of four droughts. Rainfall scarcity has affected farmers, depleted groundwater levels significantly, and led to an increase in the number of poor people in the state. What measures has the government taken to mitigate the impact?

Solar panels in a farm (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
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