Gujarat unveils scheme to encourage farmers to use, produce solar power

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Gandhinagar, June 23 (IANS) In an attempt to promote solar energy, the Gujarat government on Saturday announced Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY) scheme under which farmers would be encouraged to generate electricity and sell their surplus to power distribution companies.

The first phase of the Rs 870 crore project begins on July 2 where the state government would provide financial assistance to 12,400 farmers out of the state’s total 15 lakh farmers to generate an estimated 175 MW of power.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced the scheme here in the presence of Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and Energy Minister Saurabh Patel.

Giving details, the Energy Minister told reporters: “At present, the farmers consume power purchased from power companies. Now, we will help them set up solar systems in their fields. After they consumer power according to their requirement, they can sell the surplus back to the distribution companies.”

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“The state government and the Centre would jointly share 60 per cent of the cost of installing a solar generating unit in the fields, while the farmers would need to chip in only 5 per cent,” he said.

The remaining 35 per cent would be in the form of a loan by the state government at the rate of four to 4.5 per cent. “The farmers would be able to recover their costs within eight to 18 months, depending on their power needs and generation,” he added.

The government would also enter in a 25-year power purchase agreement with the farmers. “Till the farmers repay their loan, the distribution companies would buy electricity from them at the rate of Rs 7 per unit and at Rs 3.5 per unit once the loans are settled. After that, the farmers would get ownership of the solar system,” the minister said.

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Of the total power consumption in the state, industry and domestic sectors consume 74 per cent or 66,159 million units (MU), and agriculture uses 26 per cent or 22,704 MU annually.

Rupani said: “This is a revolutionary step which would help the farmer earn money. It is one more step in helping double income of farmers. This would take care of the complaint of the farmers that they did not get adequate electricity. Now they would get seamless power for 12 hours during the daytime.”

According to the government, a farmer would be able earn a bare minimum of at least Rs 11,500 per year and could also make much more.

–IANS

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