Solar Water Pumps in Gujarat
Located in the Kutch region of Gujarat, the project aims to install solar PV systems for operating the water pumps used by salt farmers. The ‘Agariyas’ or salt farmers of the Rann of Kutch produce more than 75% of India’s salt. A crucial part of the salt farming process is the pumping of the brine from surface or underground sources into the salt pans; farmers generally use diesel for operating the pump which is expensive and unsustainable. Solar-based solutions provide reliable, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable energy for decentralised and informal sectors. When deployed, the benefits include improved livelihoods with increased productivity and incomes, increased social welfare and reduced spending on fossil fuel subsidies and centralized infrastructure.
Background of Project
Typically, the salt farmers use diesel for powering the pumps that draw out the brine. A salt farmer uses on an average 1,600 litres of diesel per season to produce approx. 700 tons of salt. The money spent on the purchase of diesel is a major portion of their earnings. With the introduction of solar-powered pumps, the farmers save money and have reliable and dependable means to carry out their trade.
The project aims to install solar PV systems for operating the water pumps used by salt farmers, in their salt farms. With the installation of the solar PV systems, the majority of the diesel usage is replaced by a renewable energy source. So far, more than 1000 such installations have been made in the salt pans. A unique feature of this project is that a majority of the salt farmers are women who gain energy independence through the project.
The project supports women working in unorganized sectors to become more self-reliant and empower them to achieve better income security, food security and social security. This is achieved by capacity-building, leadership and confidence-building measures. Beneficiaries of the project can save considerably by using the solar PV operated pumps. This is a positive step towards a better livelihood.