KOCHI: In a path-breaking development, the state Agriculture Department has decided to shift the working of electric motors in the sprawling paddy fields in the state into solar energy, which will bring down energy consumption in the traditional sector in a big way. The sector still largely relies on the age-old conventional ‘petti-para’ system to flush out water from the kole fields in the beginning of the farming season. Raidco Kerala Ltd has been entrusted with the task of preparing a detailed project report and the first phase will be implemented in the kole fields of Thrissur and Malappuram.
Agriculture Minister V S Sunilkumar told ‘Express’ the department has identified 61 paddy clusters, four in Thrissur and 57 in Malappuram, to install solar power panels as part of shifting the working of electric motors to renewable energy. Besides, the department will sell the excess solar power to KSEB during the off-season period.
If the project is implemented in the first phase, all the electric motors in the kole fields of Thrissur and Malappuram, and Kuttanad region, where farming can be begun only after clearing water-logging from the wetland ecosystem, will be switched to solar energy, which will save a considerable amount of money for the department that pays an average Rs 30 crore every year as power tariff, he said. K K Kochu Muhammed, president, Thrissur District Kole Karshaka Sangom said, there are around 324 devices of ‘petti para’ (a device used to clear water-logging in the wetland eco-system), are being used for flushing out water from the wetland system in the region, which otherwise burns a hole in the state coffer
The state can save around `10 crore as power tariff in Ponnani kole field alone every year. But there will be a proper system for the upkeep of the solar power panels and its allied equipment as the entire area will be submerged in flood water during the height of the south-west monsoon period, he said.
Simultaneously, the Kerala Land Development Corporation (KLDC) will also install solar power panels along the banks of the canals under the KLDC without affecting farming. The primary focus of the solar energy programme under ‘Akash Jyoti’ project will be to meet the energy requirements of the farming sector. Selling excess power to the KSEB in off-period will be the secondary option, the minister said. The Thrissur-Ponnani kole fields, which will come to around 30,000 acres of paddy land, produce around one lakh tonnes of paddy every year. Motors with a horse power ranging from 20 to 100 HP are operational round the farming season here, which consume around 2.2 crore power units a year. The Agriculture Department is paying a subsidised sum of 90 paise per unit to the KSEB, which buys power from NTPC at the rate of `12 per unit.
Raidco has been entrusted with the task of conducting a study on switching the working of electric motors to renewable energy in the Thrissur-Ponnani kole fields
The agency that conducted a study in 61 paddy clusters in the region suggested switching 210 devices to solar energy in the first phase