Survey of old solar water pumps to ascertain asset condition, utilization and policy efficacy

The Promotion of Solar Water Pumps (PSWP) programme is in the process of surveying and auditing 935 solar water pumps installed between 2015 and 2017 across the four states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Odisha to ascertain learnings on installed asset condition and implementation designs. 

At present, 272,700 solar pumps are installed across the country as per the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (as of December 2020), however, there is limited clarity on the operational performance of these pumps, making it difficult to establish the actual impact of these heavily subsidized interventions on farming practices and farmer well-being. 

The survey project, being implemented through consulting firms KPMG and Kabil Professional Services, looks to address this gap by collecting extensive on-ground data on pump condition, maintenance and utilization, as well as understand farmer feedback on the state scheme and the overall impact of the pump. 

So far, over 50 per cent of targeted surveys has been completed with the support of relevant ministries and state nodal agencies, including 186 in Uttar Pradesh, 185 in Rajasthan and 110 in Odisha. The remaining surveys, 300 in Rajasthan and 154 in Tamil Nadu, are planned to be completed by mid-March. 

An interim analysis of 360 farmer interviews brings to light some interesting observations. For instance, the majority of these farmers find solar pumps easy to operate and maintain, but nearly 22% of them are not using it for irrigation purposes due to varied reasons. Significant scope of improvement is also observed in the delivery of after-sales services to farmers. While 51% of the surveyed pumps had experienced some sort of breakdown since installation, nearly half the issues took over 1 to 6 months to be resolved. 

These indicative findings based on farmer feedback are planned to be analysed in a holistic manner, taking inputs from implementing agencies, vendors and other experts, to help come up with relevant recommendations that help Component B of the ambitious Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM KUSUM) scheme which targets an addition of 2 million off-grid pumps.