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Solar-water pump scheme could help India add 150 GW

New Delhi : A recent Assocham-KPMG joint study has made a strong case for reuse of treated water, particularly in power plants, stating that India’s power sector is expected to account for 98 per cent of additional water withdrawals and 95 per cent of additional consumption between 2010 and 2035 even as another report has said that India can surpass the target of attaining 100 GW solar energy by 2022 if it replaced all traditional water pumps by solar water pumps.

“A water regulator is essential to create power legislation and regulations for private sector participation and innovative financing mechanism,” said the study - ‘Water sector resilience - Reimagining a blue future,’ conducted by industry chamber Assocham and global professional services company KPMG.

With fossil fuels having the biggest water footprint, energy sector is inextricably linked with water since almost all forms of energy production rely on the supply of water. Lack of regulatory authority is hampering the growth of water sector in India more so considering the enormous challenges and multiple disputes around allocation of water, the study said.

Considering that water is a state subject, it is imperative that the Central Government makes it mandatory for each state to have a state water policy. “This should focus on innovative technological approaches across various consumers of water for implementation, operation and maintenance and mandate establishment of a water regulatory authority".

The study also highlighted need to improve water efficiency for irrigation infrastructure in India as agriculture sector requires 800 billion cubic meters of water annually, out of which 60 per cent is dependent on rain and nearly 40 per cent is through assured water supply (irrigation).

Besides, lack of capacity building of the utilities in managing water infrastructure is leading to poor service delivery. Therefore, there should be involvment of community (end beneficiary) in the process of infrastructure management for optimum use.

Meanwhile, the other report, released recently by Greenpeace India, GERMI, and IWMI-Tata Programme, said these grid-connected, net metred solar pumps will also play an important role in providing secondary income to farmers, while giving them access to quality power for irrigation.

The report was released to discuss necessary steps for successful implementation of KUSUM - a Central Government scheme promoting solar irrigation pumps. While the 60 GW target for large scale solar is on track, the 40 GW target for rooftop solar is yet to gain momentum.

Till March 2018, only 2.4 GW of total rooftop capacity has been installed.

An assessment shows that replacing 100 per cent of all agricultural consumption in the next five years would require a total solar PV installed capacity of close to 150 GW.

This is far more than India's solar target of 100 GW by 2022. Even achieving a modest 10 per cent of this potential in the next five years would translate to a very significant commissioned capacity of almost 15 GW, the report added.

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