AHMEDABAD: International Water Management Institute (IWMI) managed to fund a pilot project with a view to promote the use of solar power for irrigation purposes. The project which was initiated in Dhundi village in Anand district some two years ago, with a team of six farmers has now managed to generate one lakh kWH of power, some 45% of which they use for irrigation purposes. The six farmers formed a cooperative and later adopted using of solar irrigation pump, as part of the project. According to water expert of IWMI, Dr Tushar Shah, the pumps have a unique capability to pool and inject surplus solar power to electricity grid, and therefore, farmers earn Rs 4.63 for every sold unit.
The connection of the pumps to state electricity grid has therefore proven to be a major incentive for the farmers. Till date, these pumps have generated nearly one lakh kWH of green energy of which 43,897 kWH was used for irrigation. Therefore, the cooperative injected more than 52,000 kWh of green energy into the grid and generated an income of around Rs 4 lakh from sale of surplus solar power. “This not only saved the government Rs 2 lakh in farm power subsidy but also expanded irrigation availability and access in the village by bringing down water prices to half; and contributed as much as 65 per cent to the annual income of its members,” he added. Some Rs 46 lakh worth of funds were facilitated by IWMI for the project while the rest of the amount was invested by the farmers who participated. By now, they have also recovered the amount they have invested by trading power and saving on other costs.