Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

[op-ed snap] From Plate to Plough: In the shade of solar trees


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Solar trees for doubling farmers' income


Annadata becoming the urjadata – This one policy has the potential to double farmers incomes within a year or two


  1. Help farmers produce solar power on their lands
  2. Farmers occupy the largest chunks of land in this country


  1. This model will be much more inclusive and can help augment their incomes significantly


  1. Solar Pumps
    1. Replace all pump-sets, especially diesel ones, with solar pumps
    2. Excess power generated through solar panels can be purchased by state governments at a price that gives the farmer a good margin over his cost of producing solar power.
  2. Solar Trees
    1. Encourage farmers to grow “solar trees” on their lands at a height of about 10-12 feet in a manner that enough sunlight keeps coming to plants below
    2. The farmer can keep growing two irrigated crops as he has been doing, but the solar tree generates a lot of excess power that can be purchased by the state government
    3. In one acre you can have 500 solar trees in such a manner that even tractors can move through those and farmers can keep growing their normal two crops. It does not impact their productivity as there is ample sunlight coming from the sides for photosynthesis. 
  3. The power generated under the second variant is multiple times more than under the first variant, and therefore the income augmentation can also be several times more than under the first variant.

What surveys show

  1. A global survey on this shows that it is being practiced in many countries from Japan to China to Germany, and India is ripe for this


  1. Mobilizing enough capital to install these solar trees. 
  2. The state should be ready to do the power purchase agreement.


  1. The economic calculations suggest that farmers can be given Rs one lakh/acre per annum as net income, with a six per cent increase every year for the next 25 years. This can easily double their income.
  2. He does not have to mobilise capital for solar panels. That is done by other businesses, who also make profit in the process.
  3. As power consumption per hectare in Indian agriculture is still very low, this holds great promise for several poorer states
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