Accelerating agri-energy innovations

On October 30, 2023, nearly 120 delegates came together to launch the India Agrivoltaics Alliance (IAA) — a first-of-its-kind collaborative platform attempting to streamline low-carbon energy development with efforts to improve socio-economic outcomes in the agriculture sector. Agrivoltaics, essentially solar panels strategically positioned on agricultural lands to capture sunlight for electricity production while allowing farming and other activities to continue beneath and around them, is being touted as a new renewable energy pathway for India. This is significant given India’s net-zero commitment by 2070, with some experts suggesting that nearly 20% of India’s 500 GW RE target by 2030 will have to be met by deployment of Agrivoltaics, especially to address issues of land-water-energy-food security.


The IAA platform itself was conceived under the American Friends of EdelGive Foundation– Indian Climate Collaborative Alliance to facilitate technical assistance, dialogue, and evidence-based decision making to support Agrivoltaics deployment. The ICC partnered with National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI) to establish the IAA — with the aim to bring together and platform diverse stakeholders including industry associations, farmer groups and producer organisation, research institutes, financial institutions like NBFCs, policy think tanks, and other civil society organisations.


Twelve organisations currently steer the Alliance (of 40 organisations) as principal action committee members: Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP),

International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Indian Society of Agricultural Engineering (ISAE), Indian Chamber of Food and Agriculture (ICFA), The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Indo-German Energy Forum (IGEF), Skill Council for Green Jobs (SCGJ), Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP) Japan, and Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, with the Alliance’s anchor and secretariat at NSEFI and ICC playing the role of Alliance partner and observer. IAA is forging strong collaborations with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA) to drive the harmonious synergy of renewables and agriculture — to support co-creation of evidence-based policy roadmaps, regulatory standards, building stakeholder capacity and supporting the development of pilot projects and regional assessments (with an initial focus on states like Jharkhand and Maharashtra).


Efforts to scale Agrivoltaics face a few challenges. For example, costs of Agrivoltaics in India are 25–40% higher than the grid-scale renewable PV for energy production — due to additional costs of mounting structures as well as spacing needs for optimising agricultural production. Meanwhile, implications of solar panels on crop yields and agrarian incomes remain less understood. To spur innovation in the farmer-owned models where farmers can use or sell renewable power and support local economic multiplier effects and diversification, the Alliance will also provide dedicated support with research and technical assistance to stakeholders in the farm and agriculture value chains.

Written by Shweta Srinivasan, Senior Specialist — Energy Transition, India Climate Collaborative.

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