The agricultural sector in Karnataka accounts for 39% of the state’s electricity (~21,344 MU). This is provided for free, or at heavily subsidised rates, to farmers. Moreover, electricity is not metered. This has led to an estimated revenue loss of INR 9,295 crore for state DISCOMs. The Government has attempted several initiatives to reduce this loss, one of them being segregation of domestic and agricultural feeders.
The feeder separation provides an opportunity for use of solar energy to supply electricity to agricultural feeders. Karnataka not only has good solar radiation profile but is also a leading state in solar installations with a commissioned capacity of ~5.1 GW. This is expected to cross 10 GW by 2025. Therefore, there is a case to examine the viability of solar power for supplying dedicated agricultural feeders (DAFs). Based on a request from the Energy Department, CSTEP assessed the technical and economic feasibility of supplying DAFs with solar-based generation. The objective was to determine whether existing and proposed PV plants (1-5 MW) can supply these feeders directly, thereby reducing losses and increasing accountability in terms of metering. CSTEP analysed various system designs to construct an implementable roadmap with policy recommendations for the Energy Department.