ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Karnataka’s ‘Surya Raitha’ Experiment

Solar-powered irrigation has expanded in India at an unprecedented pace—the number of solar irrigation pumps—from less than 4,000 in 2012 to more than 2,50,000 by 2019. It has been argued that besides giving farmers an additional and reliable source of income, grid-connected SIPs also incentivise efficient energy and water use—critical for sustaining groundwater irrigation. The Surya Raitha scheme was the country’s first, state-driven initiative for solarisation of agriculture feeders by replacing subsidy-guzzling, inefficient electric pumps with energy-efficient, net-metered SIPs. An early appraisal of Surya Raitha lauded the scheme as a smart initiative and argued that it could set an example for promoting solar power as a remunerative crop. However, the scheme was eventually executed as a single feeder pilot with some design changes in Nalahalli panchayat from 2015–18. The authors visited the pilot in 2017–18 and 2018–19 to assess if it had delivered the promises of Surya Raitha scheme. The results are a mixed bag and offer important lessons for implementation and scaling out of component C of the Government of India’s Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan policy.

What Is Stopping the Obvious?

For the vast majority of human existence, international trade was fuelled by renewable energy. Trade winds were used to cruelly bring enslaved labour from Africa to grow cane, limes, bananas, and cocoa in the Caribbean and powered the windmills that turned the cane into molasses and sugar. The Gulf...

Scaling Up Demand-side Management and Solar Pumping Programmes

India’s energy–irrigation nexus is rooted in issues of multi-stakeholder governance and incentive structures. As such, purely technological or tariff rationalisation strategies will be ineffective at delivering solutions. Possible solutions are analysed using a multi-stakeholder benefit–cost framework that provides regulators and policymakers with a tool to balance the interests of different stakeholders, that is, farmers, utilities, ratepayers, regulators, manufacturers, energy service companies, and society. This framework provides regulators with a systematic approach to rationalise incentives and transfer payments among stakeholders. Using the framework, agricultural programme strategies for energy-efficient pumpsets and grid-connected solar pumpsets are analysed.

The Price of Renewable Energy

State of Renewable Energy in India: A Citizen's Report by Chandra Bhushan, Nayanjyoti Goswami, Aruna Kumarankandath, Kanchan Kumar Agrawal and Joel Kumar, New Delhi: Centre for Science and Environment, 2014; pp 198, Rs 690.
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