Implementation of low carbon energy solutions for water irrigation in India
Vlugt, M.V. de
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Water pumping for irrigation is a big contributor to Indian carbon emissions, as it is responsible for a large share of Indian electricity and diesel consumption. Incomes of most people in India are dependent on agriculture and increasing incomes through irrigation can improve their quality of living. In addition to that, irrigation is essential for India to sustain self-sufficiency in food production. Diffusion of low carbon energy solutions for irrigation in India has slowly started, but remains far below its potential. This research is concerned with options to reduce carbon emissions for irrigation in India and issues affecting the implementation of new technologies. This study concludes that solar photovoltaic (SPV) pumps, windmill pumps, solar-wind hybrid systems, increasing energy efficiency and drip irrigation are suitable low carbon energy solutions for irrigation in India. Furthermore, it shows that high initial costs and unattractive payback periods are not the main financial barrier for some low carbon energy solutions, such as windmill pumps and increasing energy efficiency. The lack of access to formal financing facilities in rural areas does form a barrier as well. Programmatic Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and subsidies are appropriate options to increase financial attractiveness of low carbon energy solutions for irrigation. The commercialisation of microfinance can increase farmers´ access to formal credit in rural areas, although this trend should be strictly controlled by the government. From a SWOT analysis can be concluded the best low carbon solution differs per location and depends on many factors, such as annual solar irradiation, average wind speed, type of soil and crop, requirements and habits of farmers etc. This research suggests that there should be more emphasis on the needs and values of farmers. It is therefore of great importance to support local grass root initiatives, which enable famers’ access to information and knowledge about modern irrigation practices. Combining drip irrigation with renewable energy technologies and knowledge about farmer’s needs and irrigation practices will accelerate the diffusion of low carbon energy solutions for irrigation in India.