This is part of a wider policy to generate 10% of the nation’s electricity needs from renewable sources
The government has planned to purchase unconsumed or surplus electricity from solar-run irrigation pumps across the country with the aim of promoting renewable energy.
“We have prepared a draft policy to purchase such electricity from pump operators. The policy will be finalised after a meeting with stakeholders,” said Siddique Zobair, additional secretary of the Power Division and a member of Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (Sreda).
Sreda has been set up as a new government body to achieve the target of generating 10% of the nation’s electricity needs from renewable sources.
It has already introduced a policy to purchase unconsumed or surplus electricity from rooftop solar producers under a “net metering system” that received an overwhelming response from industrial consumers.
According to statistics from the Power Division, different distribution entities are now purchasing over 4.25MW of electricity from 179 industrial consumers.
Siddique Zobair also said that the government has been moving forward with the idea of purchasing electricity from solar irrigation pump operators with two main objectives.
The first is to ensure optimum utilization of electricity being generated from solar plants installed for the operation of irrigation pumps.
"The second objective is to make the solar irrigation pump projects commercially viable," he added.
According to officials at Sreda, the country currently has around 1.34 million diesel-operated irrigation pumps across the country that covers 3.4 million hectares of land.
The government is aiming to replace these diesel-operated pumps with solar ones that will ensure 150MW of energy generation from the irrigation sector.
The officials also said that 1,100 diesel-fired pumps have so far been replaced with solar-operated pumps.
These projects have been financed by state-owned financial institution Infrastructure Development Company Limited (Idcol), while some NGOs and commercial firms have also installed the solar pumps through a tripartite arrangement.
According to an official within Sreda, these pumps can remain idle or out of operation due to a lack of irrigation during a major portion of the year.
As a result, the electricity being generated from the solar powered pumps remain unconsumed, which is a big misuse of energy. However, these pump operators also require support to make the venture commercially viable.
The official also stated that if the projects are proven to be commercially viable, more people will be encouraged to replace diesel-fired pumps with solar-operated ones.
He added that the success of the net metering system has prompted the government to introduce this similar method of using electricity from solar irrigation pumps as well.