Union budget: betting heavily on solar energy to recharge farm income, becoming smart to relieve pain from discomfort

NEW DELHI: The Budget bet heavily on solar installations for power agricultural income and unveiled an intelligent solution to turn the electricity consumer into the king and relieve the financial pain of inconvenience.

The topping came in the form of reduced corporate tax rate of 15% for new gencos (generating companies) that received the ‘manufacturing’ tag. An outlay of Rs 22,000 crore for power and renewable energy marked a marginal increase over 2019-20, underpinning the thrust on sectoral reforms.

A three-year roadmap will see every conventional meter in the country replaced by pre-paid meters. The ground scheme will be worked out by the power ministry, an investment-based ministry, for Cabinet approval and additional funds, if needed.

In power minister R K Singh’s lexicon, smart meters and KUSUM scheme for solarising farm irrigation are “game changers”. He reckons solar- power ed pumps can reduce farming costs by a quarter and farmers can earn up to Rs 60,000 a year from selling electricity to the grid from solar projects set up on barren/fallow land allowed in the Budget.

Live plus KUSUM has been expanded from 17.5 lakh standalone solar- power ed pumps to 20 lakh. The number of grid-connected solar pumps has been raised from 10 lakh to 15 lakh.

N K Ranganath, of the intelligent pump manufacturer Grundfos, believes that KUSUM acts as a catalyst for sustainable irrigation solutions throughout the country.

Sabyasachi Majumdar, of the ICRA rating agency, believes that KUSUM leads to a lower dependence on discomfort subsidies and provides a boost to demand for manufacturers of solar equipment and energy efficiency pumps.

Los medidores inteligentes eventualmente permitirán a los consumidores elegir, a través de tarjetas prepagas, el proveedor plus económico según la hora del día una vez que ingresen varios jugadores después de la separación del transporte y el contenido.

Prabhajit Sarkar of PXIL of energy exchange sees that these meters finally mark the beginning of the payment cycle in time for the discoms, which leads to a positive cycle of working capital and timely payments to gencos.

CEEW’s (Council on Energy, Environment and Water) Shalu Agrawal sees them helping discoms improve load and service de Live ry management, leading to reduced operational costs through optimised power procurement.

Vikram Solar's Gyanesh Chaoudhary sees a "clear intent of fulfilling India’s COP 21 commitments in a sustainable manner" in the Budget statement seeking phase-out of old, inefficient and polluting power plants so that capacity of efficient and cleaner plants can be utilised better.

But CEEW's Karthik Ganesan feels the loss of low-cost generation -- since most of the old power plants are fully depreciated -- needs to be compensated, expecially when utilities are struggling to pay generators, before the phase-out can begin.