The TrickyScribe: As if the case for renewable energy needs any more making, here comes a study claiming wind and solar power are good for the water table. That they could help farmers survive periods of drought too. That’s especially big news for India. India is one country wherein different regions simultaneously face flood- and drought situations. India has suffered; through a series of droughts leading to overexploitation of its groundwater by users including farmers.
Renewable energy is a boon for farmers seeking to supplement the revenue and slashing down energy costs with wind and solar projects, including the emerging field of agrivoltaics. Hydropower is one form of renewable energy that is not necessarily a benefit for farmers.
Farmers need irrigation in face of scanty rainfalls. This is when drought is likely to hamper the farming prospects. Need for irrigation shoots during the periods of drought. This, however, is right around the same time when hydropower dams are especially wary about releasing water for any single purpose. Theory goes that agricultural water users would benefit from policies that in turns accelerate the development of wind & solar projects at the expense of hydropower as well as fossil fuels.
The question remains, will farmers really benefit? Little research has been conducted to back up the theory. The study from Princeton University aims at providing some answers. The Princeton research suggests that strict adherence to the timetable for wind & solar development would help cut down the carbon footprint.
With less water for power generation, more water would be available for crop irrigation during periods of drought. By using more surface water from rivers during droughts, farmers may reduce the use of pumped groundwater allowing the water table with more opportunities of replenishing itself. Of course, this would lead to benefits across the board!
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The researchers, in essence, debate that policymakers must consider the value of water in agricultural use along with the value of reducing carbon while planning the dynamics of new projects. The end outcome of such calculations would be to prepare a platform justifying the acceleration of wind and solar projects at the expense of hydropower. Researchers hold that “water allocation trade-offs between hydropower generation and irrigation use, and their future evolution, can be potentially solved by consideration of integrated management tools and the fast increase of low-carbon energy generation, such as solar and wind energy.”