In an effort to harness solar energy for those who till the soil in the State, the State government announced the launch of the ambitious Surya Raitha programme.
The programme will ensure solar panels are placed to generate electricity for running irrigation pumpsets, and will also enable farmers to sell excess power generated to the government.
Under the scheme, a farmer can install a solar power-run pumpset on his farm with 90 per cent subsidy from the government. The government will purchase excess power generated by the farmer at Rs. 9.56 per unit (if the farmer has not taken subsidy); Rs. 7.20 per unit (if the farmer has taken subsidy). This programme is envisaged for the Irrigation Pump (IP) sets on the dedicated IP feeders.
Energy Minister D.K. Shivakumar claimed on Monday that it is the first scheme of its kind in the country. This is part of the State’s Solar Policy 2014-2021.
The Union government, in its recent budget, had announced energising one lakh solar irrigation pumpsets by allocating Rs. 400 core.
The State government was likely to get 10,000 solar power-driven agricultural pump sets out of that. “We are getting 2,400 pumpsets in the first phase from the Centre,” he said.
Solar energy is generated through the year, and since farmers do not need power all 365 days, they can transmit excess power generated to the power grid, he said.
At the moment, the government supplies about 39 per cent of total power produced in the State to farmers, incurring an expenditure of Rs. 7,200 crore a year. However, there is no plan to discontinue the system of supplying free power to farmers, he clarified.