Solar irrigation uses the sun’s energy to power a pump which supplies water to crops and increases yields and profits for small farms. Solar irrigation system works when the pumps used for transporting the water are equipped with solar cells. Here, the solar energy absorbed by the cells is converted into electrical energy that then feeds an electric motor driving the pump.
Solar powered irrigation systems have become a very important technology in agriculture. In recent times, SPIS technologies are becoming a viable option for many farmers, including smallholders. In rural areas, solar power can be a means of ensuring access to energy for agriculture, specifically for users in rural areas that lack either reliable access to electricity grids or where fuel is expensive and difficult to access.
How does Solar Irrigation work?
Essentially, solar-powered water pumps work by converting the sun’s rays (photons) to electricity that will operate the water pump. It uses solar panels to collect the photons (units of light) from sunlight, producing the direct current (DC) that provides the energy for the motor to pump water out from its source. An inverter is used if the pump motor needs alternating current (AC) rather than DC.
Solar-powered water pump system components include:
Also called the solar photovoltaic (PV) system, solar panels take the sun’s photons and convert them into electricity in three basic steps.
- Solar cells within solar panels absorb photons from the sun and convert them into DC electricity.
- An inverter converts DC electricity to AC (alternating current) electricity.
- This electricity is used to operate the water pump.
Water pump motor
The water pump motor takes water from any available water source, including from underground or another water source, that can be used for irrigation, household, or other purposes.
Water pumps run on AC electrical current, so the inverter converts the electricity from the original DC to usable AC.
Pipes will transport water from the original source to wherever it needs to go; a purification system, a holding tank, etc.
The water pumping system will often include a water tank to store water that may be used when sunshine isn’t available.
The controllers regulate the water pump and allow it to be turned on and off. They can increase the life of the water pump by protecting it from electrical irregularities or motor damage if it keeps running when a water source runs dry. Controllers also maximize water delivery.
The Advantages of Solar Powered Irrigation:
- Solar power is pollution free and causes no greenhouse gases to be emitted after installation
- Reduced dependence on petrol oil and diesel fuels
- Renewable clean power that is available every day of the year, even cloudy days produce some power
- Return on investment unlike paying for utility bills
- Low maintenance cost as solar panels last over 30 years
- Creates jobs by employing solar panel manufacturers, solar installers, etc. and in turn helps the economy
- Ability to live grid free if all power generated provides enough for the home / building
- Can be installed virtually anywhere; in a field to on a building
- Use batteries to store extra power for use at night
- Solar can be used to heat water, power homes and building, even power cars
- Safer than traditional electric current
- Efficiency is always improving so the same size solar that is available today will become more efficient tomorrow.
Disadvantages of solar powered irrigation
- High initial costs for material and installation
- Needs lots of space as efficiency is not 100% yet
- No solar power at night so there is a need for a large battery bank
- Devices that run on DC power directly are more expensive
- Depending on geographical location the size of the solar panels vary for the same power generation
- Solar panels are not being massed produced due to lack of material and technology to lower the cost enough to be more affordable
- Lower energy production in the winter months
Advice to farmers on solar powered irrigation system
A good irrigation system promotes better agricultural practice, which further adds to eliminating hunger. Solar power is a growing means of generating energy and power supply. Thus, in agriculture, solar power has become increasingly necessary for irrigation as a reliable, clean-energy solution for agricultural water management, especially in areas with high incident solar radiation. The core reason for using solar power/ the sun for irrigation is because crops need a lot of water when the sun shines, and solar power produces a lot of energy when it is needed as it directly receives energy from the sun.
For all solar irrigation needs, contact Mazero Agrifood on 0729777711.