Amid Water Scarcity, Solar Water Pumps Come to Rescue in Cyclone-Hit Odisha

The worst cyclone to hit the state in 20 years, Fani has done extensive damage to the power transmission infrastructure with the entire restoration likely to be achieved in at least two months


The extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani that swept across Odisha last week has ravaged homes, uprooted electricity poles and trees, and damaged everything that came in its way. Though the state’s preparedness and timely action saved millions of lives, the people in the cyclone-hit state are now reeling under darkness, lack of drinking water, rising prices of essential goods and a serious cash crunch due to dysfunctional ATMs.

The worst storm to hit Odisha in 20 years, Fani has destroyed nearly two lakh electric poles in the state, according to media reports. While the state government is struggling to restore the basic necessities to people like electricity and water supply, local media reports suggest that it might not be possible for another week. To help the teetering Odisha get back on its feet, various DISCOMs of neighboring states have also offered help by supplying power.

In these difficult circumstances, solar-powered water pumps have come to the rescue of the people of Odisha. Recently, a video shared on social networking website LinkedIn showed how solar-powered pumps in the cyclone-ravaged state are bringing a smile on people’s faces. In the video, a local man is shown thanking the Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency (OREDA) and the solar industry for such a huge relief brought to them in this time of crisis.

Watch the video here

Off-grid solar systems can be very beneficial when the power supply goes down due to extreme weather.

With the temperature soaring to 40 degrees in various parts of the state, solar-powered water pumps can become an excellent way of restoring life to normalcy until power supply can be restored to normalcy.

Realizing the vital role these pumps can play in India’s hinterlands, the government recently approved the launch of Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) and will provide ₹334.22 billion (~$4.69 billion) in central financial support. The objective of the program is to give financial and water security to farmers. The program has been divided into three components and aims to add a solar capacity of 25,750 MW by 2022.

Water is a scarce resource in a country of 1.3 billion people. As both electricity and water demand are increasing, traditional sources of energy have become a liability not just because of pollution but also due to heavy water consumption. Coal requires large quantities of precious water compared to solar and wind. The 2012 report “Burning Our Rivers: The Water Footprint of Electricity” estimated that every megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity generated by coal withdraws approximately 16,052 gallons from the environment and consumes approximately 692 gallons of water. Conversely, a National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) official commented that a typical solar project utilizes only 1-kiloliter of water per MW on a daily basis.

According to a joint study by Greenpeace India, Gujarat Energy Research Management Institute (GERMI), and IWMI-Tata Water Policy Program, if net-metered solar pumps are installed across all states for complete agricultural energy consumption, India would surpass its distributed solar goal of 40 GW by a wide margin. The report highlights that net-metered pumps can not only supply power for farmers’ own consumption but if sized sufficiently, can result in excess power that can be fed into the grid and farmers can earn extra income from it.



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