Examine various ways in which harnessing the solar power can help in increasing the real income of farmers in the country. What are the various difficulties and challenges that need to be overcome towards this? Discuss.

Published: December 30, 2016

India desires to achieve 100 GW of solar power generation capacity by the year 2022 as well as doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
This brings in a direct relation between the two- farmers and solar energy and its importance.
India must diversify its energy mix by fast-tracking the use of all forms of renewable energy technologies which includes- PV, solar, wind, biomass, biogas and hydro. This will promote energy efficiency. Amongst these, solar farming is considered to be transformative resource for India.
To harness the solar power and simultaneously double farmers’ incomes, there are two innovative ideas.
Firstly, the government should have a guaranteed feed-in-tariff (FIT) for solar energy produced in rural areas and sold to power distribution companies or discoms.
Secondly, the FIT or price paid to rural producers of solar power should be at least 10-15 per cent higher than that made to power stations burning coal. This will offset the negative externalities on climate change and human health.
Besides this, the solar panels must be installed 15-20 feet height above the ground. This will allow enough sunlight for the photosynthetic activity of the plants growing below the panels. This will enable the farmers to cultivate two crops and this will obviously double the income of the farmer.
The major challenge is in the nature of getting the state governments on board with respect to the implementation of FIT.
Therefore, for this dream to become a reality, co-operative federalism needs to come into existence in spirit and simply not being in letter.

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