Solar Pumps: Harnessing the Sun
for an Ever-green Revolution in
Bihar

Avinash Kishore, PK Joshi and Divya Pandey
2nd Dece...
Frequent droughts have severely affected
agriculture in Bihar in recent years
680

40.00

630

30.00

Value of Paddy (2004...
Drought in 33 of 38 districts in 2013. Severe drought in 9
districts
Year (NSS Round)

Head Count Ratio (HCR)

2004-05 (61...
“The Energy-squeeze” in Bihar’s Agriculture
 Groundwater is the best bet against droughts
(Dhawan, 1986)
 But groundwate...
Policy response
 Easy subsidy on diesel pumps
 Bihar

does not need more pumps; it needs cheaper
energy

 Subsidy on di...
Could Solar pumps be a solution to “energysqueeze”?

In spite of its high
capital cost, lifecycle cost of a solar
pump is ...
The Solar Powered Public Tubewells in
Bihar
The solar pump experiment in Bihar
 34 defunct PTWs revived in Nalanda district using
solar panels in March-April 2012
 ...
Bihar government’s solar pump experiment
(cont’d)
 Pumps are installed in lands donated by farmers
 WUAs formed to manag...
Our Study
 We picked 16 of the 34 command by a lottery

 10 beneficiaries selected randomly for each
PTW(total 160 farme...
Sampling and data collection (cont’d)
 In rabi season, data was collected for
 3 solar plots of the solar farmers
 1 no...
FINDINGS

INTERNATIONAL FOOD POLICY RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Operational setting of the solar pumps (cont’d)
 Average design command area of solar pumps – 8.34 ha
 Actual area serve...
Benefit from SPTW: Wheat
Variables of
interest

Solar plots of solar
farmers

Non-solar plot of
solar farmers

Non-solar p...
Variables

Coefficient

if_solarplot

324.2***
(76.99)

land_owned

-5.633
(35.25)

if_ownboring

-56.05
(79.51)

if_ownap...
2013: one of the worst drought years in Bihar
 Solar pumps are helping
 Irrigation cost for nursery preparation & mainte...
SPTWs were severely underutilized in summer
season
Variables of interest

Solar farmers

Non-solar farmers

Farmers who gr...
 Our findings indicate that irrigation through solar pumps
benefits farmers by -

Increasing yield
Lowering irrigation co...
But SPTWs are underutilized
 High capital cost; near zero operational cost
• High capacity utilization is essential to ma...
Way forward
 5556 old PTWs in Bihar
• Mostly defunct due to poor power supply and expensive diesel
 900 of them to be re...
Solar Pumps: Harnessing the Sun for an Evergreen Revolution in Bihar
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Solar Pumps: Harnessing the Sun for an Evergreen Revolution in Bihar

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Presentation by A Kishore, International Food Policy Research Institute, at the CCAFS Workshop on Institutions and Policies to Scale out Climate Smart Agriculture held between 2-5 December 2013, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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Solar Pumps: Harnessing the Sun for an Evergreen Revolution in Bihar

  1. 1. Solar Pumps: Harnessing the Sun for an Ever-green Revolution in Bihar Avinash Kishore, PK Joshi and Divya Pandey 2nd December, 2013 Avinash Kishore, PK Joshi and Divya Pandey
  2. 2. Frequent droughts have severely affected agriculture in Bihar in recent years 680 40.00 630 30.00 Value of Paddy (2004-05 prices) % deviation from mean rainfall 580 20.00 530 10.00 480 0.00 430 -10.00 380 -20.00 330 -30.00 280 -40.00 230 180 -50.00 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12
  3. 3. Drought in 33 of 38 districts in 2013. Severe drought in 9 districts Year (NSS Round) Head Count Ratio (HCR) 2004-05 (61st) 55.7% 2009-10 (66th) 55.3% 2011-12 (68th) 34.06% 2013-14*** ~45%*** If 2009-10 is a any guide, drought this year will push >15 million people below the poverty line in Bihar Effective drought proofing is essential to poverty reduction in the state
  4. 4. “The Energy-squeeze” in Bihar’s Agriculture  Groundwater is the best bet against droughts (Dhawan, 1986)  But groundwater is economically scarce in Bihar • >90% farmers depend on diesel pump-sets • Price of diesel has nearly doubled in last eight years • Farmers practice deficit irrigation in Rabi, wait for rains in Kharif and seldom grow summer crops  Affordable access to groundwater is essential for drought-proofing
  5. 5. Policy response  Easy subsidy on diesel pumps  Bihar does not need more pumps; it needs cheaper energy  Subsidy on diesel in drought years  ~$0.15 billion in 2013 @ 40cents/liter  But  Low awareness & poor off-take (IWMI, 2012)  High leakage & delayed in payments, other hassles  Water buyers are often left-out; same for tenants  Diesel subsidy is poorly targeted, ineffective
  6. 6. Could Solar pumps be a solution to “energysqueeze”? In spite of its high capital cost, lifecycle cost of a solar pump is lower than a diesel pump now
  7. 7. The Solar Powered Public Tubewells in Bihar
  8. 8. The solar pump experiment in Bihar  34 defunct PTWs revived in Nalanda district using solar panels in March-April 2012  Each tubewell draws power from six solar panels • Covers ~100 sq. meter of land  Runs a 7.5 hp submersible pump with a discharge capacity of 70m3/hr
  9. 9. Bihar government’s solar pump experiment (cont’d)  Pumps are installed in lands donated by farmers  WUAs formed to manage the PTW • The land donor is often the de-facto manager of the PTW  Irrigation fee of Rs. 400/ha/watering • The WUA (the land-owner) keeps 90% irrigation fee for repair and maintenance  10% is deposited with the department
  10. 10. Our Study  We picked 16 of the 34 command by a lottery  10 beneficiaries selected randomly for each PTW(total 160 farmers)  5 non-beneficiary farmers also selected on each PTW (total 80 farmers)  Farmers surveyed in  Rabi 2012-13: 3 rounds of recall surveys  Kharif 2013: 1 round (around transplantation)
  11. 11. Sampling and data collection (cont’d)  In rabi season, data was collected for  3 solar plots of the solar farmers  1 non-solar plot of the solar farmers  1 non-solar plot of the non-solar farmers  In kharif season, data was collected for paddy cultivation for  Solar and non-solar plots of solar farmers  all plots of non-solar farmers  Monthly pump operation data collected from logbooks of the 16 operators in all 4 rounds of survey
  12. 12. FINDINGS INTERNATIONAL FOOD POLICY RESEARCH INSTITUTE
  13. 13. Operational setting of the solar pumps (cont’d)  Average design command area of solar pumps – 8.34 ha  Actual area served • 3.5 ha in rabi and • 4 ha in kharif  Average # beneficiaries/SPTW = 16 (against potential 35)  Pumps not operated for 12 days/month  Few instances of technical glitches  Defective pipe network and lack of demand (specially in summer) are the main causes of under-utilization of SPTWs
  14. 14. Benefit from SPTW: Wheat Variables of interest Solar plots of solar farmers Non-solar plot of solar farmers Non-solar plot of non-solar farmers Wheat yield (kg/ha) 2973.663 2565.885 2624.638 Irrigation cost for wheat (Rs/ha) 821.4672 2946.771 3238.522 Net benefit from solar pumps to wheat growers = ~Rs. 7000/ha Gross benefit/SPTW in Rabi = Rs. 25,000
  15. 15. Variables Coefficient if_solarplot 324.2*** (76.99) land_owned -5.633 (35.25) if_ownboring -56.05 (79.51) if_ownapump 58.33 (93.60) urea_quantity 0.657*** (0.233) DAP_quantity 0.806*** potash_quantity (0.268) 4.140*** (1.443) laborhired_Rs 0.0397** (0.0155) Constant 2,511*** (360.4) Observations 341 R-squared 0.355 Village and caste fixed effects Standard errors in parentheses *** p<0.01, ** p<0.05, * p<0.1 Yes
  16. 16. 2013: one of the worst drought years in Bihar  Solar pumps are helping  Irrigation cost for nursery preparation & maintenance • Solar farmers – 186 Rs/ha • Non-solar farmers – 451 Rs/ha  100% transplantation in command area by 31st August • yet to happen in 27% of non-command areas  Irrigation costs (up to 31st August)  Solar plots – 671 Rs/ha  Non-solar – 3137 Rs/ha
  17. 17. SPTWs were severely underutilized in summer season Variables of interest Solar farmers Non-solar farmers Farmers who grew summer crops 57 % of solar farmers 28 % of non-solar farmers Avg. Area under summer crops (ha)/farmer 0.06 0.02 • Lack of complimentary inputs (labor, credit and experience) • Increase in area under summer crops is crucial for viability of solar pumps
  18. 18.  Our findings indicate that irrigation through solar pumps benefits farmers by - Increasing yield Lowering irrigation costs Increasing cropping intensity Mitigating impact of drought by enabling timely transplantation  encouraging area under water intensive crops like Rabi maize and vegetables that offer higher returns to land    
  19. 19. But SPTWs are underutilized  High capital cost; near zero operational cost • High capacity utilization is essential to make solar pumps viable  Possible Remedies • Investment in water distribution network of PTWs  Command area and # beneficiaries will double • Incentives for pump operators to increase capacity utilization • Credit and extension support to farmers to encourage summer crops  Experiment with subsidized private solar pumps
  20. 20. Way forward  5556 old PTWs in Bihar • Mostly defunct due to poor power supply and expensive diesel  900 of them to be revived with a loan from NABARD  3000 new PTWS to be built  With proposed design, all of them will fail  Adding solar panels will cost $ 15,000 or ~$ 2000/ha of command area in capital cost  Additional benefit = $ 500-700/ha/year » ($ 150 in rabi, $ 150 in kharif, $ 400 in summer)  Pay-back period of ~3-6 years + effective drought proofing
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