A new Anand cooperative model – this time, in solar farming

farmersIn May 2016, a Solar Pump Irrigators’ Cooperative Enterprise (SPICE) was up and running in Dhundi, a village in Gujarat’s Anand district. Members of this cooperative — the first of its kind in the world — are using solar power not only to run irrigation pumps, but also pool their surplus energy to sell to the Madhya Gujarat Vij Company Ltd (MGVCL)at Rs 4.63/unit under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

The Dhundi SPICE’s six solar pumps, having an aggregate capacity of 56.4 kilowatts (kW), can generate nearly 85,000 units (kilowatt-hours) of energy annually, assuming 5 units per kW on an average daily over 300 sunny days. Of this, the six farmer-members would use 40,000 units for watering their total seven acres land and inject the balance 45,000 units into the grid, grossing over Rs 2 lakh revenues from power sales to the distribution company or Discom.

Under the PPA contract, the six farmers have surrendered their right to apply for grid power connections for 25 years. Solar power for them comes much cheaper than diesel — roughly 3,600 litres are required to produce 40,000 units — and is also more reliable than subsidised grid power that is available for only 7-8 hours daily, with voltage fluctuations and during night-time in half of the days every month. Solar power, by contrast, is uninterrupted, predictable, available during daytime, and free of cost.

Read the full article in The Indian Express