Agrivoltaic has huge potential to double farmers’ income: Bhavesh Kumar Rathod

Amisha Yadav @CCMS

Ahmedabad headquartered Soleos Solar Energy is upbeat about the prospects of solar energy. It has already implemented 350MW and has work orders of 250MW. In an interview to EarthConnect Bhavesh Kumar Rathod, director of Soleos Solar Energy Pvt Ltd, said the company is excepting 30-40% growth in the coming times. Rathod also said Soleos is experimenting with a new model called Agrivoltaic. Excerpts…

How has been the pace of new installations for you? What kind of work orders do you have?
We have seen good growth in past. Currently we have implemented 350 MW of projects with utility scale having 60% and rooftop 40% of the total capacity.
We currently have a project pipeline of 250 MW. And we are expecting 30-40% growth in coming years.

But there is a slowdown in rooftop installations. What are the reasons?

Solar rooftop has bright future because energy costs are rising every year but for common man to make an investment of Rs 2-3 lakh is a difficult proposition.
That’s why the government should pitch in. Besides the subsidies the government should also push banks for landing to these projects. Even though the government is giving subsidy it is not easy for the common people to avail them. There should be some online system that would help the common man get subsidies without hassles. Moreover, the discoms should encourage rooftop segment and work on grid stabilization.

You are running a pilot project on Agrivoltaic. Can you explain the concept?

We are targeting different sectors. Agrivoltaic is one of them. India cannot divert its productive agriculture land for solar that’s why we need to have a model where the agriculture activity can continue while the same land being used for solar. This module has been adapted globally but in India we haven’t experimented this. So this will ensure us both food security and energy security. This is a wining situation for the farmers, and the energy situation.

Are there any Agrivoltaic projects in the world?
In India there is no dearth of land but in other western countries there is a limitation on land for solar. That’s why in western countries especially in France they have adopted agrivoltaic model. In India also we cannot divert productive land for solar because we need food security as well. So in agrivoltaic model the farmers can do agricultural activities as well as generate power through solar.

How does Agrivoltaic work on the ground?

In agrivoltaic the solar panels are put up at a height of 10-15 feet and that’s how the agricultural activities do not get hampered by the solar panels. Rather the solar panels help the agriculture land retain moisture and do not evaporate water as quickly as it would have been without the panels. The panels also protect the crop from direct sunlight which is beneficial for the crops. It improves the crop yield. During rainy season the panels prevent rain falling directly on the land and causing soil erosion.

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