Government formulating KUSUM Scheme to harness solar power for rural India

R.K. Singh, Union Minister of State (IC) Power and New & Renewable Energy in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha informed that the Government is in the process of formulating a Scheme ‘Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM)’ which, inter alia, provides for:

  • Installation of grid-connected solar power plants each of capacity up to 2 MW in the rural areas;
  • Installation of standalone off-grid solar water pumps to fulfill irrigation needs of farmers not connected to grid;
  • Solarization of existing grid-connected agriculture pumps to make farmers independent of grid supply and also enable them to sell surplus solar power generated to DISCOM and get extra income; and
  • solarization of tube-wells and lift irrigation projects of Government sector.

The power minister informed that the details on funds and mode of implementation of KUSUM scheme will be decided on approval of the Scheme.

KUSUM (Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyan) aims to incentivise farmers to run solar farm water pumps and use barren land for generating solar power to have extra income. The total cost of the capacities under this scheme would be Rs 1.4 lakh crore. The Centre will provide Rs 48,000 crore financial assistance under the scheme.

RK Singh recently said that KUSUM will also improve the present scheme for rooftop solar systems. The government is enlarging the scope of the existing scheme and its mechanism,  he added that the government is thinking of beginning KUSUM with 7.5 lakh solar pumps.

As much as 30 per cent of the cost of solar pumps was provided by the government in the earlier scheme. The new scheme would be more broad-based like incentives for discoms to buy power from farmers and financial assistance of 60 per cent to buy solar pumps which would be equally shared by the Centre and state.

The Rs 48,000-crore incentives under KUSUM will aid total solar power generation capacity of 28,250 MW entailing an investment of Rs 1.4 lakh crore over the next 10 years, Singh had said earlier.

KUSUM has four components. First is utilisation of barren land by farmers. The government is expecting 10,000 MW under this.

For this ground-mounted 10,000 MW, no subsidy would be provided to buy equipment, but discoms would be given 50 paise per unit as generation based incentives to buy power from farmers for five years. Subsidy component will be Rs 4,875 crore.

Second component includes installation of 17.5 lakh off grid solar farm pumps. The government will provide Rs 22,000 crore to farmers to buy the equipment.

Third component is solarisation of grid-connected farm pumps involving 7,250 MW capacity. The subsidy for this would be Rs 15,750 crore.

Similarly, government departments’ grid connected water pumps would be solarised, involving 2,500 MW. It would take four years to solarise these pumps and the subsidy component would be Rs 5,000 crore.

Regarding storage mission the minister earlier said: “We are setting aside Rs 300-400 crore (outlay) for National Battery Storage Mission. We are most likely to locate it in SECI (Solar Energy Corporation of India). This will be for R&D. We are going to attach storage to wind and solar projects. If we are bidding out 2,000 MW solar for instance, then the storage would be for 100 -200 MW.”

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