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Welcome move: Now, Bescom to harness solar energy for irrigation pump sets

Shankar Sharma, Power & Climate Policy Analyst, writes to the Additional Chief Secretary,
Energy Department, Govt of Karnataka:
This has reference to a news item Now, Bescom to harness solar energy for irrigation pump sets that Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) will soon harness solar power to energise close to 2.6 lakh irrigation pump sets (IP sets).
Whereas, many of us in the state, who are really concerned about the unsustainable practices in the energy/ environment sectors, have been advocating since many years for a massive statewide campaign to power each of the IP sets from solar PV systems, it is deplorable that the same has not been given any credence so far. It is a consolation that BESCOM is considering the same now. Congratulations are in order to BESCOM in this regard.
But please note that the plan to have medium size/ large size solar power farms (as the above report says: ...suitable locations within the three-km radius of our substation and set up solar plants, ...”) are not the best option, although it is better than the large size solar power parks (as at Pavagada Taluk), which have many concerns of their own (such as large scale land diversion, dedicated power lines with very low utility factor, demand for water for cleanings etc.).
When we objectively consider all the associated issues of electricity needs of IPsets in the state, demand/supply of electricity scenario, the associated ecological issues etc. it should become evidently clear that the practice of powering individual IP sets through adequate sized and dedicated SPV systems situated within the farmer's premises (such as above the pumphouse) is the best techno-economically attractive option. If necessary, I can provide more details w.r.t the associated costs and benefits in this regard.
Since, as mentioned in the news report, in total, IP sets consume close to 24% of the energy sold by Bescom annually, every IP set owner should be encouraged to take active participation in this important state-wide campaign along with suitable financial and technical support, wherever needed. This scheme will not only reduce the financial burden on the state (the farmers can bear a percentage of costs, and also can get some financial benefits), but will lead to massive reduction in T&D losses in the state.
Such a scheme has enormous positive implications to the state from the perspective of ecological sustainability, and in reducing the overall burden on the state's electricity grid. Effective implementation of such a scheme will eliminate the need for most of the planned conventional technology power plants, such as coal, nuclear or dam based power plants, in the state. If the state also takes care to optimally harness all other rooftop surfaces to install SPV systems, the energy transition can become a reality early. It can be smooth and at low overall societal cost.
In this larger context, it is imperative that the state govt. forms suitable policies/practices for the implementation of such a scheme through the state at an early date, and seeks effective participation from all stakeholder groups; especially our farmers.



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