Solar panels power Sivaganga farmers

SIVAGANGA: T Kannan, a farmer in Tiruppuvanam in the district, is a happy man today. For the past couple of years, erratic power supply had disrupted his water supply, constantly leaving him without water for irrigation. But today, he receives continuous water from 6am to 5pm, allowing him to comfortably grow plants like Vallarai Kerrai, Tulasi and Ponnanganni Kerrai. For this, he thanks the solar-powered water pump he recently installed. Stories like Kannan’s abound in the district.

With 69 solar panels already installed by the agriculture engineering department, solar agricultural pumps are becoming hugely popular among farmers in the district. Even though a solar panel can cost about Rs 5 lakh, farmers can avail it at heavily subsidised rates.

Assistant engineer from agriculture engineering department in Sivagangai Uma Devi said, “Farmers need to pay just 20% of the total cost to install a single solar panel. The government provides them an 80% subsidy.”

The department decided to install solar panels after they learned that the district electricity board (EB) was delaying providing electricity connection to the farmers. With the panels, quick and easy power generation is possible. For instance, an electricity board connection to an agriculture field takes at least 10 years. Many are yet to get the connection.

“A solar panel is useful for a middle-class family like ours. Even after registering with the electricity board, we had to wait for years to get a connection for the farms,” said A Pandi, a farmer.

A single solar panel generates power up to 250kWh (kilo watt hour). It also covers a good 10 acres of land, according to the borewell capacity. The solar panel comes in two types- tracking and non-tracking ones. Tracking solar panel, which is a mobile panel that moves according to the sun’s path – is a hit among the farmers. The non-tracking panels, on the other hand, do not move from their position.

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