Tuesday February 27, 2024

Yale Environment 360

There is a solar-powered revolution going on in the fields of India. By 2026, more than 3 million farmers will be raising irrigation water from beneath their fields using solar-powered pumps. With effectively free water available in almost unlimited quantities to grow their crops, their lives could be transformed. Until the water runs out.

The desert state of Rajasthan is the Indian pioneer and has more solar pumps than any other. Over the past decade, the government has given subsidized solar pumps to almost 100,000 farmers. Those pumps now water more than a million acres and have enabled agricultural water use to increase by more than a quarter. But as a result, water tables are falling rapidly. There is little rain to replace the water being pumped to the surface. In places, the underground rocks are now dry down to 400 feet below ground.

That is the effective extraction limit of the pumps, many of which now lie abandoned. To keep up, in what amounts to a race to the bottom of the diminishing reserves, richer farmers have been buying more powerful solar pumps, leaving the others high and dry or forcing them to buy water from their rich neighbors.

Read more >

Link copied successfully