The solar revolution in India is not just limited to transitioning toward cleaner energy. For the millions of people in the rural hinterland who are off the grid, solar energy is a truly transformative force. Apart from generating electricity for domestic use, the 300 days of sunshine in the country can also be harnessed for deploying solar water pumps, which are emerging as an important tool to invigorate the agricultural sector. By circumventing the need for either electricity or fossil fuels like diesel to run irrigation pumps for the fields, solar based water pumps are a boon to farmers in the remote areas the country that provide a greener and cheaper source of energy.
With an aim to mitigate the usage of diesel for water pumps, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has been extending capital subsidy program under the National Solar Mission program to enable adoption of solar PV based irrigation pumps for agricultural application. Currently a large number of diesel engine based irrigation pumps are used in the country. MNRE wants to mitigate the usage of diesel by deploying solar based water pumps, which are a greener alternative. Also solar water pumps are a boon to the farmers in remote villages of India which are yet to be connected to the grid. Along with MNRE, various central government agencies like NABARD and state government agencies have been promoting Solar PV based water pumping systems.
MNRE has established the “Technical Specifications” for Solar Water Pumping Systems which lays down the performance requirements for each component used in the Solar Pump and the system as a whole. Solar Pumps are expected to work for 15 – 20 years, providing adequate water pumping capacity for agricultural purpose round the year, in remote locations of the country. All suppliers need to get their systems tested at a MNRE approved lab to these specifications, to be eligible for bidding for tenders and to qualify for subsidies.
As a global safety science company with more than 120 years of expertise, UL has been continuously engaging with industries across the spectrum in India to support them with testing, inspection and certification facilities, whether for exports under the ‘Make in India’ campaign, or for improving quality and safety of products for the domestic market, in the ambit of the ‘India for India’ movement. UL has played a critical role in the large scale adoption of solar water pumping systems in India by helping to ensure that only the systems that meet the quality and performance criteria as defined in MNRE specifications are qualified to be installed in the country.
UL’s state of the art Solar Pump testing facility in Bangalore is capable of testing PV Modules, Pump Controllers and the pump assembly as a complete system. UL facility has the capability to test Submersible and Surface pumps with rating ranging from 1 HP to 10 HP. This facility has been operational for the past 12 months and has completed testing 200 pumps, thereby helping to ensure that the performance of the solar water pumps installed in the country have been verified by an independent, 3rdparty test laboratory.