Solar System for Agricultural Water Pumps

Introduction to Solar System for Agricultural Water Pumps:

Today, let us discuss Solar System for Agricultural Water Pumps.

A solar energy-powered water pumps are water pumps running on the electricity that is generated by solar energy. For generating solar power, Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are used for complementary energy source, they are deployed alongside diesel pumps in areas with plenty of sunshine and where the cost to run power lines is high.

The main use of Solar Pumps in Irrigation: The solar water pumps are used for extracting water from ponds, rivers, bore wells or other sources of water.

Photovoltaic systems used in solar power generating used are scalable, with capacity ranging from a few watts for applications such as automated farm gates or timers, to hundreds of kilowatts for the homestead and farm sheds. Instead of having a large centralized system, several distributed PV systems can be deployed at pump sites. Solar pumping systems are best suited for pumping operating like to pump water out of bore, for instance, or transfer it from the dam to storage tank, in which pumps run continuously for most of the day.

In the farms that require water to be pumped at night are not as well suited to solar powered pumps, as storage solutions such as batteries and storage tanks can increase the cost of the system. Even though they are expensive, these energy storage solutions can be expensive, but they allow for greater utilization of the PV system. Depending on the usage, stocked water can be fed by gravity when there is insufficient sunlight to power the solar pumps, reducing diesel consumption further.

For all the agricultural needs, the best alternative is solar energy. Modern, well-designed, simple designed solar systems can provide the energy that is needed. Solar power generating systems that have been tested and proven around the world to be cost-effective and reliable, and they are already raising levels of agricultural productivity.

Solar Power Systems:

There are two types of solar systems – these systems.One that converts solar energy to D.C. power and the other once converts solar energy to heat. Both types are used for all applications in agricultural settings, which makes life easier and helping to increase the operation’s productivity.

Read: Borewell Drilling Cost.

Type 1 -Solar energy to D.C. Power:

  • In the solar system that converts solar energy to D.C. power, and this solar generated electricity, called photovoltaic (or PV). Photovoltaic are solar cells,which convert the sunlight into D.C. electricity.
  • The solar cells in a PV module are from semiconductor materials. When light energy strikes the cell, electrons are released from the atoms.
  • Electrical conductors are installed at the positive and negative sides of the material which allow the electrons to be captured in the form of a D.C. current.
  • Then this electricity can then be used to power a load, such as a water pump, or it can be stored in a battery.
  • It is a fact that PV modules produce electricity only under sunlight, so some form of energy storage is compulsory to operate the systems at night.
  • The energy can be stored as water by pumping it into a tank while the sun is shining and distributing it by gravity when it’s needed after dark.
  • For electrical applications during the, you require a battery to store the energy generated during the day Photovoltaic is a well-established, proven technology with a substantial international industry network. And PV systems are cost-effective compared with both the extending the electrical grid or using generators in remote locations.
  • And these PV systems are the best systems and very economical in providing electricity in remote locations on farms, ranches, orchards and other agricultural operations.

Different types of Solar Pumps for Irrigation:

There are several different types of solar-powered pumps. But primarily there are four types of solar water pumps, they are submersible pumps and surface pumps, direct current (DC) pumps and alternate current (AC) pumps.

  • Submersible pumps: The submersible pumps are located deep below the ground level and are submerged under water. The intake head of the submersible pump is beyond a depth of 10 meters. These pumps are installed by digging a borewell, which leads to an increase in its installation and maintenance cost.
  • Surface pumps: The surface pumps remain out of water and in the open. These pumps are installed in place where the water table is within a depth of 10 meters. As they need to be on the surface, these pumps have a very easy to install and easy maintenance. These pumps are not suitable for the deep water table.
  • DC pump: These pumps run on a motor which operates on direct current, therefore no battery or inverter is needed in this type of pump.
  • AC pump: The motor of this pump operates on alternating current, that means the direct current produced by the solar panels are converted to AC using the inverter. The conversion from DC to AC can lead to loss of power from generation and consumption.

Which is the best option?

Comparing above types of solar pumps, it is best to choose in between, DC or AC pumps, as the submerge and surface pumps are not a good option. Even though DC pumps have an advantage over AC pumps in terms of higher efficiency and no requirement of an inverter for operation, the cost of DC pumps are very high. And the repair and maintenance of DC pumps are difficult in rural and remote areas due to lack of service centers in these areas.

Best Location to Install Solar Pumps:

You should follow certain criteria for selecting the location for installing both the solar panels and the pump.

  • For installing the solar panels, the installed in an area should be shade free and has no dust or dirt and have a low incidence of bird droppings and which can provide space for unrestricted tracking movement and the surface for mounting panels should be even. Panels should be easily accessible for cleaning and should be close to the pump and water source.
  • The pumps should be installed near to the solar panels, but within the area to be irrigated. The intake lift for the pump should be low. In case of multiple water sources, the source with the highest water table should be chosen for installing the pump.

Capacity of Irrigation in Solar Pumps:

The capacity of solar pumps catering to number of acres, mainly depends on the type of irrigation and ground water level.

Approximately a 2 HP pump can cater to about two acres of land and a 7.5 HP pumps can cater to 10 acres of land.

Read: Agriculture Soil Testing.

Maintenance for Solar Pumps:

The solar system needs very low maintenance, it includes cleaning of the panels on a regular basis. Cleaning at regular intervals will maintain the efficiency of the panel, a low maintenance can reduce the panel’s surface exposure to irradiation from the dust and dirt on it.

But when compared to diesel pumps, solar water pumps have a significantly longer life expectancy and continue to produce electricity for more than 25 years.

Solar water pumps Vs Conventional electric pumps?

The advantages of solar water pumps over conventional electric pumps are listed below:

  • Solar water pumps do not need any fuel or electricity to function. Once installed, solar water pumps don’t need any recurring costs of electricity or fuel.
  • These systems are not affected by power cuts, low voltage, single phase problems or the motor burning.
  • These pumping systems are easily installed in remote areas where electricity is unavailable or diesel is difficult to procure.
  • Incurs low maintenance costs as solar water pumps very few moving parts as compared to a diesel-powered pump and thus, there is less chance of wear and tear.
  • These solar pumping systems don’t need lubricants are required for operation and hence no chances of water/soil contamination due to the lubricants.
  • These systems are very handy and easy to operate

Companies offering the Solar Pump Systems for Irrigation:

Giving the potential economic opportunity, there has been many companies offering solar pumping systems, from giant companies such as Jain Irrigation, Tata Power Solar, Moserbaer, Shakti Pumps (India), Jain Irrigation Systems, Topsun Energy Ltd, Duke Plasto Technique Pvt. Ltd, Kirloskar Pvt, and SunEdison, to smaller companies such as Claro and Atom Solar. It doesn’t mean that the solar pumps are cheap. A one horsepower solar pump can cost approximately 1Lakh Rupees— and the upfront cost typically unbearable for most small, marginal rural farmers with a couple hectares of land or less. And despite the number of subsidies by the state and federal level in India, there are only about 12,000 solar pumps have been installed nationwide.

Schemes for solar water pumps by Government of India

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has introduced a five-year program, Solar Pumping Program for Irrigation and Drinking Water, in 2014-15 which provides a financial support of Rs 400 crores for the installing 10 lakh solar water pumping systems around the country for irrigation and drinking water needs. This scheme is implemented through the state governments that can either carry out solar pumping projects or offer financing through NABARD, all the commercial banks and other financial agencies for the farmers to encourage solar water pumping.

All the states are offering subsidies to promote usage of solar water pumps. In the budget 2017-18, the Andhra government has announced the distribution of solar pump sets to farmers at subsidized prices. And the Haryana government had offered a 90 percent subsidy to encourage solar water pumps among farmers.

Read: Fish Hatchery Business.

Do the Solar Pump Systems work in all the seasons?

In many parts of India, there are 2 to 3 months in a year when weather conditions (clouds) prevent solar water pumps from working. But it rains a lot of those days, so irrigation may not be required.

But still leaves a few days when there won’t be Sun, leaving about a 90% reliability factor for solar water pumping. But adding energy or water storage can solve this issue.

And the, small land holdings will reduce the applicability of larger solar pumps unless water brought up by using solar pumps can be shared among a group of farmers.

Cost of Solar Pump Sets:

The cost of the solar water pumps based on their capacity and type is given below:

  • 5 HP AC solar pump set system cost approximately: 4,90,000
  • 3 HP AC solar pump set system cost approximately: 3,20,360
  • 5 HP DC solar pump set system cost approximately: 5,40,000
  • 3 HP DC solar pump set system cost approximately: 3,84,015

If the pump sets are beneficiary funded, they receive the MNRE subsidy which is Rs 32, 400 per HP for AC pumps and Rs 40, 500 per HP for DC pumps.

Advantages of Solar Power Systems:

  • Financing and cost of solar panels may continue to drop, making Solar Power economically viable and competitive compare to other sources of energy.
  • Solar pumps are free from volatile fuel prices and unreliable and costly fuel supplies.
  • In the long run, the cost of water pumping will be reduced. If system is being modernized for pressurized irrigation, increases in energy costs are offset using solar energy.
  • There is huge potential for increasing agricultural productivity and income due to constant access to water (additional cropping season, diversification of cropping pattern, higher value crops). The solar pumps can be used more efficiently, if combined with drip or other water- efficient irrigation technologies.
  • There are chances to increase the income diversification due to multiple uses of energy (e.g. feed-in to the grid, lighting, cooling), and water (e.g. Livestock watering, domestic uses).

Read: Types of Irrigation In Agriculture.

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