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Saturday, 18 October 2014

India in pursuit of Energy Efficiency in Agricultural Sector?

Agricultural sector uses energy mainly in the form of electricity and diesel for its various activities such as water pumping, threshing, processing etc. Currently there are about 20 million agricultural pump sets in India which accounts for about 20% of the total electricity consumption. Nearly 0.25 to .5 million pump sets are added annually. Significant energy losses are associated with the distribution of electricity to the agricultural pump sets. Poor selection, installation, and operation of electrical pump also add to these losses. The poor management of load demand by the local supply authorities compounds the problem of poor power quality. To compensate for this, farmers have resorted to the usage of over-sized and inefficient local made pump motors which can operate under these conditions of power supply. Free or subsidized electricity to this sector is also one of the reasons that these consumers do not care for energy saving.
The average operational efficiency of these pump sets has been found to be only 20 to 30%. As per the Planning Commission Annual Report on State Power Utilities and Electricity Department, low or free electricity coupled with inefficiencies in the sector resulted in a revenue loss of 45,000 Crore INR in the year 2011-12. This huge amount can be well utilized in some social development activities like setting up schools, hospitals, and other basic amenities which is badly needed in our country. Do you agree?    
Proper and efficient use of equipments and resources can help in energy conservation. The energy efficiency of agricultural pump sets and hence the sector can be increased by:

1.      Using star rated Energy Efficient Pump Sets (EEPS). These pump sets have an efficiency of 40 to 45%.
2.      Selecting a pump of the right capacity as per the irrigation requirement. Improper selection of pump can lead to large wastage of energy. 
3.      Matching the motor with appropriately sized pumps.
4.      Proper installation of the pump system, including shaft alignment and coupling of motor-pump.
5.      Using low friction rigid PVC pipes, foot valves and non-return valves.
6.      Avoiding the use of unnecessary bends and too long pipes.
7.      Periodically carrying out the corrective measures such as lubrication, alignment, tuning of engines (for diesel pumps) and replacement of worn out parts. Efficiency of worn out pumps can drop by 10%.
8.      Using drip irrigation for specific crops like vegetable, fruits, flowers etc. Drip irrigation systems can conserve up to 80% water and reduce the pumping requirement.  

According to some estimates, the potential for energy saving is highest in agricultural sector although there is contradiction to this. The sector has a potential to save nearly 28 billion units (billion kWh) which is more than 36% of the total estimated energy saving potentials. Study also suggests that this sector offers the minimum payback period and hence should be on the top of the priority list.
To induce energy savings in agricultural sector, the Ministry of Power, Government of India, has initiated Agriculture Demand Side Management (Ag DSM) program on Public Private Partnership (PPP).  The scheme was initiated in 8 agriculture intensive states, viz. Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. In these states the agriculture sector accounts for 70% of the total electricity consumption.
In one of the pilot projects carried in Maharashtra, nearly 2200 old and inefficient pump sets were replaced by star rated EEPS on PPP mode. The outcome of the project reflects that the average efficiency has improved from 22.19% to 39.6%. Now estimate how much times the average efficiency has increased?

Thus creating awareness among agricultural consumers, carrying out different studies related to improvement of energy efficiency, initiating and implementing the DSM program in this sector, one can say that India is in pursuit of Energy Efficiency in Agricultural sector.