About the event
Agriculture remains critical for livelihoods and food security in South Asia. Over the last 50 years, agriculture in the region has become more energy-intensive due to the rapid proliferation of groundwater irrigation. The region is home to nearly 25-30 million agricultural pumps, the largest worldwide. These pumps, powered by either dirty diesel or electricity, have been critical for enhancing agricultural production and supporting livelihoods, but cause substantial carbon emissions in the process. Replacing these fossil fuel-based pumps with solar irrigation pumps (SIPs) is an effective mitigation strategy. While agriculture is a source of emissions that causes climate change, the sector is also highly exposed and vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. As such, climate action in agriculture needs strategies that combine adaptation and mitigation actions. Just Energy Transition is one such strategy, which involves moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, while not compromising the adaptive capacity of the farmers.
The International Water Management Institute (IWMI), with other partner organizations, is hosting a Regional Knowledge Forum on Energizing Agriculture and Enabling Just Energy Transitions in South Asia. This event is a part of IWMI’s project titled Solar Irrigation for Agricultural Resilience in South Asia (SoLAR), funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
Themes of the Conference
Theme 1: Solarizing Smallholder Irrigation
(Policy landscape and empirical evidence of the impact of solar irrigation pumps (SIPs) on farmers'
incomes and livelihoods)
The adoption of solar irrigation pumps (SIPs) has rapidly increased in South Asia over the last decade. The region now has nearly 300,000 SIPs. Various technical, financial, andinstitutional models have been tried. In this session, we welcome presentations and panel discussions on the overall policy landscape of solar irrigation in South Asia, issues related to the governance of utilities that can affect solar irrigation, and the impact of solar pumps on diesel use and farmers' livelihoods
Theme 2: Conserving groundwater through solar irrigation
(Empirical evidence and future projections)
Given the zero marginal energy costs of solar pumping, there are apprehensions that the rapid spread of SIPs will lead to excessive groundwater use for irrigation, causing further depletion in regions that are already water scarce. In this session, we look forward to presentations and panel discussions that provide empirical evidence of the impacts of SIPs on groundwater use or model the same, given future climate change scenarios.
Theme 3: Connecting off-grid to the grid
(Pilots and lessons from grid-connected solar irrigation projects)
SIPs started as an off-grid enterprise in South Asia, but most countries have felt the need to move to on-grid solar irrigation over the years. This is because on-grid solar pumps can help electricity utilities meet their renewable energy mix targets. At the same time, feed-in tariffs can be attractive for consumers (farmers) and investors if set right. Incomes derived from selling electricity to the grid can incentivize farmers to pump less groundwater without losing income. In this session, we solicit presentations and panel discussions on grid-connected solar pumps' technical, policy, and institutional aspects.
Theme 4: Renewable energy in agricultural valuechains
(Institutional models, policies, and case studies on livelihoods and impacts)
Renewable energy (RE) is used in many agricultural processes, including irrigation, harvesting, drying, post-harvest processing, or cooling and preserving agricultural products. In this session, we solicit papers and posters that examine policies, institutions, and financial models that support the use of RE in agriculture, as well as empirical case studies that look at the impacts of RE in agriculture on farmers' livelihoods and incomes. Presentations and panel discussions on the use of RE in agricultural processes other than irrigation are welcome.
Theme 5: Making energy transitions inclusive andequitable
(Is renewable energy transition GESI (gender, equity, and social inclusiveness) compatible?)
The requirement that RE policies and institutions are GESI transformative is at the heart of just energy transition. In this session, we look forward to presentations and panel discussions on RE policies, technologies, and institutions from a GESI lens and examine if they are gender transformative or not and ways in which these can be made so.
Format of the Conference
The conference will be organized in a hybrid format, with a selected group of participants (invited as speakers and panelists) participating on-site while the remaining join online. The conference will feature three categories of sessions:
1.1 Keynote Sessions: Keynote speakers will be invited to the conference location to deliver their talk in person (unless they choose to do so online). These sessions will be streamed live through the conference media channels.
1.2 Technical Sessions: Participants will be selected internally by the conference partners to present their work under the five themes of the conference. These sessions will be designed by the conference organizers and conducted in person.
1.3 Partner Sessions: All conference co-organizers will organize at least one session on the abovementioned themes. The partners will be given complete flexibility to design their sessions, invite suitable panelists and speakers, and prepare their dissemination material. Partner organizations may conduct these sessions either on-site or online, in which case, online sessions will be streamed live to a broader audience.
2. Field visits: All in-person attendees will join in a half-day-long field work where they will see solar irrigation pumps in operation and interact with farmers and utility officials and visit a training facility of the Gujarat Energy Research Institute (GERMI).