The government is actively considering solar plan for the dairy sector by subsidising the setup, according to NDDB chairman Dilip Rath. Speaking at a workshop on Solar Energy for Dairy Farmers here on Wednesday, Rath revealed that the plan has been agreed in principle and an announcement is expected soon.
Rath stated that NDDB (National Dairy Development Board) has started application of Concentrated Solar Thermal technology or CST in dairy processing plants to partly address the need for thermal energy in dairy cooperatives.
“CST can reduce the annual heat demand of the processing plant from 5 to 15%. With the help of capital subsidy support from MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy) and UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), NDDB has completed 15 CST installations in processing plants of dairy cooperatives across four states of Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat and Karnataka. The total installed collector area at these locations is around 8,000 m2 of aperture area,” he said.
He added that with successful experimentation of installing grid connected solar PV (photovoltaic) systems with storage (if required) in village level dairy cooperatives / milk collection centres, NDDB has started propagation of solar energy run village cooperatives across the country.
The NDDB chairman stated, “Support under National Dairy Plan I was also provided to 125 such installations across 18 states and results have been encouraging. A uniform policy framework with suitable grant support can help solarise entire village level dairy operations, which would reduce energy cost and contribute significantly to environment protection.”
Rath informed that Prime Minister of India inaugurated NDDB-promoted Saur Urja Utpadak Sahakari Mandali Ltd at Mujkuva village near Anand in Gujarat on September 30, 2018. Some 11 farmers have surrendered their access to the state subsidised electricity and opted for solar energy and supplying surplus energy to grid.
Meanwhile, in his inaugural address, Raj Kumar Singh, Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy, said that the entire dairy value chain from village level milk pooling points to product delivery is energy-intensive. Extensive use of solar energy in dairy value chain can significantly reduce operational cost and ensure usage of clean energy. Singh said that NDDB with its mandate of promoting cooperative strategy has played a pivotal role in creating a pan-India network of dairy cooperatives.
He mentioned that the dairy network now had around 1.65 lakh village level dairy cooperatives, 218 district/regional/taluka unions and 24 state dairy federations/apex milk unions. Around 15 million milk producers are affiliated to this network.
As on March 2018, the network maintains 72 MLPD (million litre per day) of processing capacity, 18 MLPD of chilling capacity and 38 MLPD of village level bulk milk cooling capacity. The Union Minister stressed on the need of creating an enabling policy framework to further propagate usage of solar energy utilising the dairy cooperative network for the benefit of farmers.
He conveyed that the Union government is promoting solar pumps to ensure usage of clean energy and at the same time reduce the agricultural subsidy burden. Grid connected solar pumps is an alternative which while ensuring water for free to farmers will help them earn additional income through selling surplus energy.
The workshop highlighted solar energy as income source for dairy farmers. Discoms (distribution companies) shared their initiatives and promoted the concept of solar as a remunerative crop. IIT, STFI, GIZ, National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), Rajasthan Electronics and Instrumentation Limited (REIL) and Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) shared their experiences in application of solar in dairy value chain especially the CST, industrial heating, bulk cooling and milk collection systems.