As with most states in India, Andhra Pradesh and the recently formulated state of Telangana also faces severe power shortage, especially during peak hours. The government has once again turned to the forces of nature and decided to harness solar energy to help reduce the dependency on conventional electricity. The governments of these states have decided to replace the traditional hand pumps with solar powered pumps in order to save precious electricity. In addition, they have also decided to issue incentives to farmers who come ahead and agree to make this shift.

The Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has agreed to sanction storage tanks and solar powered motors that will increase drinking water supply in rural India. Presently, Andhra Pradesh has an installed capacity of around 100MW of solar energy, whereas Telangana has only around 50MW. A total of 3,500 pumps have been divided between the 2 states in the ratio of 52:48, with Andhra Pradesh getting more on the basis of its population.

The Cost-Benefit

Solar pump kits are not cheap. It is estimated to cost around Rs. 5 lakh to setup one 5 HP solar pump, and with over 20 lakh pump sets in this region, there is an enormous cost overhead on the government. The central government has decided to bear 70% of the expense. The state government will bear the balance 30%. These pumps are estimated to have a life span of twenty years. The beneficiaries can offset the initial expense by not having to pay electricity bills during the lifespan of the solar pumps.

At 7 working hours a day, the 20 lakh pump sets presently consume about 13 million units of energy daily. This amounts to over Rs. 15 Crore. The state intends to reduce this cash outflow and has therefore decided to consider the solar pump scheme.

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