Solar Irrigation in India
A situation analysis report to understand the synthesis of India’s solar irrigation policies.
India’s solar irrigation policies are examined in this report, focusing on the nation’s transition to renewable energy and the challenges faced by the water and energy sectors concerning solar irrigation. The SDC-SoLAR project, led by the IWMI, aims to address these issues through research activities. Groundwater-led irrigation played a significant role in India’s agricultural success, but it led to unsustainable groundwater use and environmental consequences. To mitigate emissions, India plans to install 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, with a major focus on solar energy. Solar-powered irrigation, though a minor part of this plan, can contribute to India’s clean energy transition with proper policies.
Several reforms have been introduced over the last decade to promote solar irrigation, including the PMKUSUM scheme. However, barriers remain, such as financial challenges for electricity distribution companies, incentivizing farmers, and technical hurdles. Sustainable groundwater management and inclusive deployment of solar pumps are also crucial aspects that need attention. The Gujarat-based SKY scheme offers insights into grid-connected solar irrigation. The SoLAR project aims to evaluate its impact on energy usage, water pumping, farming practices, and farmers’ income.

Farmer Responses to Solar Irrigation in India
Agent-Based Modeling to Understand Sustainable Transitions
Solar irrigation in India aims to address irrigation access and groundwater overexploitation. Many Indian farmers rely on rainfall, making them vulnerable to climate variability and limiting their crop options. Solar irrigation offers the potential to increase irrigation access for farmers without grid connections or expensive diesel pump sets while curbing groundwater abstraction through net metering.
Agent-based modeling (ABM) was used to understand farmer choices and transitions before and after solar irrigation. The study suggests that sustainable transitions are physically possible, but deep lock-ins in agriculture and biophysical constraints limit changes. Case studies in different regions highlight specific challenges and potential outcomes.
For solar irrigation to bring true change and crop diversification, sociotechnical evolutions are necessary, including changes in agricultural and energy policies. It is crucial to examine local contexts and apply the ABM approach accordingly to make a significant and lasting impact on groundwater sustainability and farmer incomes.
This report provides valuable insights into the complexities of implementing solar irrigation in India and the need for context-specific strategies to achieve desired outcomes.
A Quick Assessment of the Mukhyamantri Saur Krishi Vahini Yojana (MSKVY) in Maharashtra-IRMA
Solar irrigation in India aims to tackle issues of irrigation access and groundwater overexploitation. Many Indian farmers rely on rainfall, leaving them susceptible to climate fluctuations and restricting their crop choices. Solar irrigation presents an opportunity to expand irrigation access for farmers lacking grid connections or costly diesel pump sets, all while mitigating groundwater extraction through net metering.
To comprehend the choices and transitions of farmers concerning solar irrigation, agent-based modeling (ABM) was employed. The research indicates that sustainable shifts are feasible, but entrenched agricultural practices and environmental constraints hinder progress. Through case studies in various regions, specific challenges and potential outcomes are highlighted.
For solar irrigation to bring about substantial change and crop diversification, sociotechnical transformations are imperative. This entails revising agricultural and energy policies to align with local circumstances and implementing ABM appropriately. By doing so, a substantial and enduring impact on groundwater sustainability and farmer incomes can be achieved. This report offers valuable insights into the intricacies of implementing solar irrigation in India, underscoring the necessity for tailored strategies to attain desired objectives.

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