RANCHI: The state agriculture department expressed its eagerness to shift the energy load of agricultural activities to renewable resources, particularly solar energy, after an expert committee projected an estimated savings of Rs 12,465 crore to the state exchequer in the next 15 years, if done so.
The state government gives huge amounts of subsidy to farmers on power bills for their consumption in agricultural activities. As per the roadmap on energy transition in agriculture sector, prepared by the Jharkhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (JREDA) in consultation with the Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED) and Centre for Excellence in Green Energy & Efficient Technology, Central University of Jharkhand, switching to renewable resources would bring down the cost of power substantially and result in savings for the state, which it otherwise gives as subsidy. It would also help the farmers in augmenting their income.
Unveiling the report here on Friday, state agriculture minister Badal Patralekh advocated for converting grid power to solar power in a phased manner for its use in the agriculture sector. “This is an important document as it chalks out a strategic path for increasing agro-productivity and promoting enterprising activities through sustainable means. The government is committed to uplift the financial condition of the farmers. We look forward to the key recommendations of the report and will try to incorporate them in our programs,” he said.
While the roadmap elaborates a slew of measures which can initially reduce the cost of power and save subsidy, it goes on to suggest the development of solarised cold stores and warehouses which can further prove to be sites of entrepreneurship and activity favouring installation of rooftop grid connected solar plants.
Highlighting the key aspects of the study conducted for preparing the roadmap, CEED’s Ashwini Ashok said agriculture’s contribution to the state’s GDP is as low as 13% and the sector consumes merely 3% of the power from conventional sources. “There is a huge scope to incorporate power usage and augment its share to the state GDP. The government will be able to save around Rs 12,465 crore while adding a solar capacity of 4250MW. Solarisation can be instrumental in avoiding CO2 emissions of more than 36.4 million tonnes in the next 15 years” he added.
The CEO of CEED, Rampati Kumar, said, “The state must initiate a sustainable solar mission. Solarisation of 2,34,000 grid connected pumps and installation of 4,05,447 standalone off-grid solar pumps can generate around 700MW of power. For augmenting the logistics infrastructure in the rural regions, installation of 8343 micro cold storages can create a cumulative storage capacity of 3.64 lakh metric tonne from 2021-22 to 2037-38.”
He added, “The report also states that development of 81,000 warehouses facilities in villages can lead to a solar rooftop potential of 160 MWp in the state.”
JREDA director K K Verma said solarisation is an exciting opportunity which can be materialised through separate agriculture solar feeders, solar irrigation pumps, solar rooftop-based cold storage infrastructure and various rural enterprising activities catalysed through decentralised renewable energy-based solutions. “JREDA will take the lead in facilitating the technical know-how, capacity-building and training support to the farmers and rural entrepreneurs to bring noticeable change in farming practices,” he said.