Greenpeace welcomes government funding for KUSUM rural solar & solar rooftop schemes; says proper implementation can be a game-changer for troubled power sector
New Delhi, February 20: After a year long wait, the Central Government has finally allocated funds for KUSUM, the rural solar scheme that will help farming communities install solar arrays to meet local electricity demand and also feed clean electricity into the grid. Financial support to the fledgling rooftop solar sector was also announced.
Greenpeace India welcomed the financial allocations as essential for India to achieve its 100 GW solar target by 2022. So far, India has only installed about 3.4 GW of its 40 GW rooftop solar target.
Greenpeace India, along with its allies, has been campaigning for the speedy implementation of the KUSUM scheme ever since its announcement in the 2018 budget. In addition, a series of ‘Rooftop Revolution’ reports mapping the rooftop solar potential of various cities across India (Delhi, Patna, Hyderabad & Chennai), have been making the case for further budgetary support to residential rooftop solar for many years now.
Although the Finance Ministry had not released the funds promised in 2018 Budget, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs stepped in yesterday and released Rs. 46,000 crores till 2022 for not just KUSUM, but rooftop solar as well.
The new incentives for solar agricultural pumps and residential rooftop solar can be a game changer for the power generation and distribution sector, speeding up India’s energy transition away from expensive, polluting, climate destroying coal power towards cleaner and cheaper energy, and ensuring we meet our international solar commitments”, said Pujarini Sen of Greenpeace India.
A 2018 Greenpeace, GERMI (Gujarat Energy Research & Management Institute), and IWMI-Tata Water Policy Program (International Water Management Institute) study (1) indicated that India could add up to 15 GW by converting just 10% of it’s agricultural pumpsets from thermal & diesel to solar.
“KUSUM can potentially revitalise DisComs by converting farmers from importers of subsidized electricity to exporters of clean solar energy. This revolutionary idea can reduce if not progressively eliminate agricultural power subsidies, and also allow DisComs to meet their RPOs. Such decentralized solar installations will create economic opportunities that come with steady electricity access”, said Akhilesh Magal, Head – Advisory, GERMI.
Shilp Verma of IWMI-Tata Water Policy Program said, “KUSUM is a first step in the right direction; the challenge will be to translate national policy into local action in different states. Through it’s solar irrigation field pilots in Dhundi (Gujarat) and Samastipur (Bihar), the IWMI-Tata Program has demonstrated that if promoted well, solar irrigation pumps can significantly improve farmer incomes & wellbeing, and generate positive externalities for groundwater, electricity and agriculture economies”, Shilp Verma Consulting Researcher, IWMI-Tata Water Policy Program
“For the scheme to work, its essential that distribution companies (DisComs) pay fair rates to farmers for the electricity they purchase from their solar arrays. Loans should be easily available to farmers; and there must be state government-enforced mechanisms to ensure equipment quality and the technical competence of contractors for both rural & rooftop solar schemes. Now that money has been allocated, proper implementation is key to unlocking the scheme’s full benefits,” added Sen of Greenpeace.