A solar water pump is an entire water pumping system powered by solar energy through the use of solar photovoltaic panels. It does not use any fossil fuels or external electricity to run the pump.
The pump is a traditional water pump that is generally used for irrigation purposes.
There are a few components to the solar water pump system, like the solar panel, a motor pump, and a control device to operate it. Some designs may also include an inverter or solar batteries.
The solar water pump can be used for community irrigation purposes and works well on various water bodies. In-short the solar water pump is powerful enough to replace a traditional diesel or electric water pump.
As the name suggests, the only way it is different from a regular water pump is that it runs solely on solar power. When the sun is shining, the sunlight on the panels produces a direct current (DC) supply, which can be applied directly to a DC motor, which pumps the water. An Inverter can be used to convert the Direct current to an Alternating current, depending on the engine you are using.
Advantages of solar water pumps over conventional electric pumps:
- Solar water pumps run on solar power, which means there are zero costs for electricity/diesel.
- Solar power provides a more stable energy source than grid-based power-systems as you can avoid power-cuts, over-heating, and unpredictable power shortages.
- Many rural villages are unable to connect to the national power grid, and solar is a boon for such communities.
- The maintenance cost of a solar power water pump is drastically smaller compared to a diesel-run water pump.
- No harmful fumes are generated via solar water pumps and can reduce health problems in rural communities. Fumes from burning diesel can cause life-threatening diseases.
Solar power is the best alternative for people living in remote places because they do not need to be connected to the national power grid. Also, it is safe for the environment as well as incurs almost zero maintenance costs. Although the initial set-up of a solar water pump is double a diesel pump, it increases the annual net income of farmers/rural communities. With advancements in technology and the fast-paced importance of solar-power, these initial costs will drop over the next few years.
Types of solar water pumps:
In actuality, a pre-existing AC or DC water pump can be repurposed as a solar water pump. It only involves the addition of a solar PV module and an electronic charge controller.
There are two ways in which the pumps are classified. They are classed by their placement (underwater or above the waterline) or by the electricity that they use (DC or AC).
- Submersible pumps: Submersible pumps are used for low water bodies with a depth of more than 10 meters. To install such pumps, a borewell must be dug, which increases the cost of installation. These pumps remain submerged in the water and hence can incur some maintenance costs as well.
- Surface pumps: Surface pumps are designed to be used in water bodies that are less than 10 meters in-depth, such as ponds and wells. They are installed on the surface and are easier to maintain.
- A DC pump runs on a motor that operates on direct current; therefore, no battery or inverter is needed. They tend to be more efficient, but also expensive.
AC pump: To operate an AC pump, an inverter must be installed to convert the DC to AC. Some energy can be lost during the conversation.
It must be noted that DC pumps are advantageous because of their higher efficiency and no requirement for an inverter for operation. But, the cost of DC pumps is higher, and the repair and maintenance can be complicated in rural areas.
Average discharge and capacities of solar water pumps:
For a DC motor pump set, a 1 HP motor would be able to provide 6,200 – 38,000 liters of water per day, and higher ratings of pumps increase output almost proportionately. 1 HP DC pump requires a solar panel of 900W approximately for optimum operation. However, the average discharge depends on solar intensity, location, season, and other factors.
The government has put forward schemes to promote the use of solar water pumps. The government is offering an MNRE subsidy, which amounts to Rs 32, 400 per HP for AC pumps, and Rs 40, 500 per HP for DC pumps.
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