Solar co-op transforms the economy of a farming community in India

Solar co-op transforms the economy of a farming community in India

A village in India has seen its fortunes change after setting up a solar co-op to power their irrigations systems.

A report in The Hindu told how the co-op in Dhundi village, in the north-west state of Gujarat, sells water to farmers for half the price that they used to pay for diesel-powered systems.

The Dhundi Saur Urja Utpadak Sahakari  Mandalico-op (DSUUSM) was set up two years ago and sees nine nine famers irrigate their fields using solar pumps; they also sell surplus power to the Madhya Gujarat Vij electricity company, and sell water to other farmers.

One of the farmers, Udaysinh Chawda, told The Hindu that his income has risen 30,000 rupees a year to 130,000 rupees in the two years since he installed his 36 solar panels, with a combined capacity of 10.8 kW.

This means he has already more than recouped the 54,000 rupees he paid for his system, which also includes pumps and a micro-grid.

The development means members now have water at home and no longer have to take the 1km walk to handpumps, and have been able to invest in cows, further adding to their income by selling milk to the Amul dairy co-op.

The International Water Management Institute, which launched the project, says it has turned the village’s economy around – leading other communities to consider setting up their own solar co-ops.

It told The Hindu that if India’s 21 million diesel and electric pumps were switched to solar, it would increase farmer incomes, reduced subsidy burdens and help to tackle climate emissions.