India to push the solar power to boost agricultural sector; the polyhouse effect

India to push the solar power to boost the agricultural sector, says reports. The nation targets a 100 GW production capacity by 2021-22, whereas the installed capacity touched 20 GW in 2017, with 18.4 GW in the form of ground-mounted projects and 1.6 GW on rooftops.

The current trend shows promotion of large solar parks with capacities more than 250 MW. The recent tenders for these parks have driven the tariff down to less than Rs 2.50/unit, making solar cheaper than coal. The ground-mounted PV solar projects require around four-five acres of land per MW, and 120,000 to 200,000 acres of land are required to meet the 40 GW solar park target. The rooftop photovoltaic (RTPV) systems have yet to take off in India.

Most of the proposed solar parks have faced issues when it comes to identification and acquisition of land. Techniques like polyhouse are needed to boost to optimise the usage of land lying unutilised below the PV panels. A polyhouse is an enclosed space where a variety of plants can be grown perennially by controlling the ambient temperature, humidity, air flow and lighting conditions.

The farmers using polyhouse have reported five-fold increases in agricultural yield and resultant revenue per acre of land. Moreover, central and state governments also provide 40-60 per cent capital subsidies for polyhouse investments. Innovative irrigation methods like drip and mist, have reduced the water requirement in polyhouse by more than 60 per cent per acre with one acre of polyhouse creates 10-12 jobs, say reports.

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