Solar irrigation pumpsets are now a reality in India, with falling panel prices and aggressive promotion by the central and state governments. Solar pumps are widely seen as an ‘energy’ solution; however, in the Indian context, they need to be viewed as a composite energy-and-water intervention that will affect both energy as well as groundwater economies. Aggressive promotion of solar pumps in groundwater abundant Eastern India has the potential to catalyze an ever-green revolution there. The same strategy in Western and Southern India, however, can increase the stress on depleted groundwater resources because solar pump owners face near-zero marginal cost of groundwater. While solving the energy problem, solar pumps can aggravate the water problem in these areas—unless special efforts are made to create an opportunity cost of energy generated by solar panels.
Bio: Avinash Kishore is a Research Fellow at International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its New Delhi office. He is interested in agriculture, environment, and development economics. Avinash has a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University and a Masters in Public Affairs from Princeton. He studied rural management at IRMA, Anand and worked for four years at International Water Management Institute (IWMI) before going to the US for higher studies.