‘Solar Irrigation in India’ Knowledge Portal

Till about 2009-10, almost all of the couple of thousand solar irrigation systems installed in India were for ‘technology demonstration’. These were implemented in controlled, academic environments with the objective of establishing technical feasibility of pumping water for irrigation using solar energy. Financially, solar technologies were considered unviable, especially for agriculture with high energy demand and limited purchasing power of small farmers. Not many people could have imagined what happened in the next decade.

Between 2010 and 2020, the number of solar irrigation pumps in India grew to more than 250,000 through a mix of improvements in panel efficiency, declining unit prices and aggressive government support. As the numbers continue to grow, our understanding of their functioning, technical and financial business models, impact on agriculture and water resources, promotional strategies, and institutional capacity requirements are also growing. In 2018, acknowledging the potential of ‘solar irrigation’ in reshaping India’s massive irrigation economy, the Government of India announced KUSUM (later, PM-KUSUM; Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahabhiyan) which now boasts of an ambitious target of installing more than 3.5 million solar irrigation pumps over the next few years.


In 2019, GIZ-India and IWMI came together for the project ‘Solar Irrigation Expansion in India’ to facilitate better decision making in the process of scaling and mainstreaming of solar irrigation in India, specifically the Government of India’s KUSUM initiative and associated policies in different states of India. As part of this project, IWMI and GIZ India have agreed to co-develop a knowledge portal to share the growing knowledge and data on various aspects of solar irrigation in India.

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Children taking water from a submerged handpump (Image source: Prabhat Khabar)
A bright future for solar-powered irrigation?
Currently, drip irrigation is only practised in 2.85 percent of the total irrigated area in the country. forwater_test posted 6 months 1 week ago

Currently, drip irrigation is only practised in 2.85 percent of the total irrigated area in the country. In Rajasthan, it is slowly taking root riding piggyback on solar water pumps which are increasingly being used as an energy source for irrigation. A farmer availing a solar pump subsidy is required to irrigate at least 0.5 hectare of his farm using a drip system.