Is solar pumping right for my farm? If so, which configuration is likely to be most suitable?
To help you decide whether solar pumping is a technically feasible and financially viable option for your farm, consider the following questions:
Are your current pumps suitable? Diesel pumps cannot be integrated with solar power and would need to be replaced, incurring extra costs. However, there are good opportunities to integrate solar with diesel generators.
What is the cost of operating your existing pumps? Solar power has high up-front costs but low operating costs. A solar PV system can result in significant savings over the system’s life. Integrating solar with your existing power supply can substantially reduce operating costs.
How far from the electricity grid is the proposed pump site? Solar can be used to power pumps that are far from the grid. Such solar pumps can transfer water to locations near the electricity grid for grid-powered pumping or pressurization.
How often is the pump used? Solar pumping suits applications requiring a regular operation. It may be more economical to employ mobile fuel generators for pumps that are used for only a couple of periods a year.
At what time of day do you need water? A solar PV system powers the pump only during daylight hours. For applications that require water at night or on demand, consider combining solar with water or battery storage. It may also be more economical to use a different pump technology.
Is there existing water storage? Solar pumps are well suited to pumping water to some form of water storage (such as a dam or tank) where it can be used when needed.
Will the water be pressurized? Pressurized systems require consistent energy sources. Combining solar with battery power could provide this; otherwise, integration with other power will be necessary.
How much water must be pumped? Solar can provide power for large volumes of water; however, with such applications, it may be more economical to install solar to reduce the size of the main energy source rather than as your sole power source.