Dr A.K. Jain, Head, SWE, pointed out, “There is a limited availability/access to grid power in rural areas and the farmers have to rely mostly on hand operated and diesel operated water lifting devices and pumps. However, they are expensive to run. The farmers often run out of money buying fuel to operate their pumps before the crop is ready for harvest. To overcome this problem, solar water pumping system is an answer to the Punjab farmer.”
The experts namely Dr Rakesh Sharda, Dr Sunil Garg and Dr Mukesh Siag said that India has been endowed with abundant renewable solar energy resource. The country receives solar energy equivalent of 5000 trillion k Wh/year with a daily average solar energy incidence of 4-7 k Wh/m2. This is considerably more than the total energy consumption of the country, added the experts, saying that most parts of the country experience 250-300 sunny days in a year, which makes solar energy a viable option.
Dr Sharda told that the water pumping system operates through solar energy, available from the sun during day time. Functioning during sunshine hours, these pumping systems are ideal for small and middle farmers to meet their irrigation requirements who do no have access to electric connection and use diesel pump sets, he added.
Referring to the requirements of solar water pumps, Dr Garg informed that they require no fuel and little or no maintenance. The system needs a shadow-free area for installing the solar panel. Their operating cost is less compared to diesel pumps and there is no dependence on conventional energy resources.
Clean and efficient, low labour, durable, eco-friendly, long operating life (20 to 25 years), non-polluting, simple to install and easy to remove, transport and store are some of the advantages of solar water pumps, highlighted Dr Siag. It will give freedom from power cuts and load shedding, said he, adding that now a days, systems are available in the market which require no manpower to change the direction of the panel. Automatic solar trackers take care of the direction of the solar panels as per the direction of the sun.
Their use with micro irrigation system leads to a saving in water as well as substantial saving in electricity (fuel).