The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued draft guidelines for the installation of innovative standalone solar pumps and has invited comments and suggestions from stakeholders.
According to the draft, the Ministry will call for an expression of interest (EoI) from time to time inviting applications from solar pump innovators claiming better performance on account of improved efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and monitoring.
New technologies for which patent or intellectual property (IP) related filings have been done will also be eligible to participate in the EoI. The draft states that the organization which has filed the patent should be the sole applicant or a lead partner in case of a consortium or joint venture.
Secondly, the MNRE states that applications will be evaluated by an evaluation committee formed by the Ministry.
“The Committee may recommend testing of the performance of the pump at the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) or any other National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accredited laboratory before allowing installation of such pumps in the field. The innovator will need to submit the test report along with the applications if it has been tested earlier. In cases where the technology is in its nascent stage, the special method may be adopted to test the pumps in consultation with the innovator and NISE,” states the draft.
On the recommendations of the Committee, the innovative technology will be allowed for demonstration in the field after getting consent from the respective state implementing agency (SIA) and the beneficiary farmers.
According to the draft, the innovator will be allowed to install up to 50 solar pumps in different parts of the state or country for demonstration purposes.
Regarding the payment and performance guarantee, the innovator will be treated at par with other vendors selected through a competitive bidding process and will be awarded the work for the installation of solar water pumps. Along with this, the innovators will also have to fill an indemnity bond against damages and refund of all payments in case of underperformance of solar pumps.
The MNRE in its draft has also mentioned that the field demonstration will be for at least one year from the date of installation, and it will be monitored on a real-time basis.
As per the guidelines, every month, the innovator will submit a detailed performance report for every pump, including a comparative analysis with similar capacity of MNRE specified pump, along with the feedback from SIA and beneficiary farmers. After a thorough examination, the Committee may recommend for adoption of the successful innovation technology with certain modifications.
Only after the evaluation committee’s recommendations, the MNRE may adopt the innovative technology and update the existing specifications. Before updating the existing specification, the Committee, however, will consult the stakeholders.
While presenting the Budget 2020-21 in February 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, announced that the government plans to expand PM-KUSUM to help two million farmers to set up standalone solar agricultural pumps and 1.5 million farmers to set up grid-connected pumps. Under the program, farmers with fallow lands would be able to generate solar power to sell to the grid.