Solar Powered Water Pumps

Background

Irrigation plays a key role for smallholder farmers in increasing crop yields and in many cases allowing them to cultivate during the dry season, on land which would otherwise be fallow for up to four months of the year. However, many of these farmers don’t have access to reliable grid electricity and/or are subject to the high cost of diesel fuel to pump water for irrigation.

As prices for solar panels continue to fall rapidly, solar powered water pumps are becoming more accessible even for farmers with small plots of land. CITE is evaluating the solar pumps on offer for smallholder farmers in near Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh and Kanakapura, Karnataka as well as farmers using pumps for salt production in the Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.

About the Evaluation

The CITE team traveled to India in early 2016 to assess both the technical as well as social, cultural, and economic aspects of solar pump use in those three locations in cooperation with the Self-Employed Women’s Associate (SEWA)’s Hariyali Sustainable Energy program, Development Alternative’s TaraGram initiative, and SunEdison’s partnership with the local electricity distribution company. Our team spent time taking technical measurements of the pump’s performance and output as well as interviewing stakeholders including manufacturers, NGO facilitators, land owners, pump installers, and the farmers themselves.

For this evaluation, CITE evaluated the solar pumps’ suitability and sustainability, in partnership with the Technology Exchange Lab, TERI University’s Solar Testing Lab in Delhi as well as Pakeen, our partner farm in Massachusetts.

The evaluation includes product-by-product comparison of solar pump systems and some of its individual components. The report also includes a sensitivity analysis of the most important factors of affordability and suitability including system right-sizing as well as a discussion of the three different financing models used to purchase the systems we visited.

Please note that the solar pump sizing tool referenced in the evaluation report will be available on the CITE website in January 2018.

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