Solar powered irrigation is opening many opportunities for the 500 million smallholder farmers across the world. Providing a sustainable and reliable way to keep your growing crops all year round, while saving you both time and money on your farm. A lot of these benefits come from being powered by renewable energy – free solar energy.
So, we wanted to take a step back and look at the solar technology powering our water pumps. How it works and what makes it a great option for irrigating your farm.
How a solar panel works
Solar energy is a brilliant technology that has come on leaps and bounds in the last few decades. You may be familiar with the solar panels from home uses, such as the ones that produce energy to power lights and appliances or the ones that provide hot water. To power water pumps, you need solar panels that turn the sun’s energy into electricity – these are solar PV panels.
So how do solar PV panels work? In simple terms, these glass panels are made up of a network of semi-conductive cells that, when hit by sunlight, get energised and create an electric field. This network within the panel then channels the energy into a current to create power for what you need.
This process happens instantly within the panel as soon as sunlight hits it. All you need to do is get your panel in the sun, plug in your devices and you’ll have power. So unlike other sources of power such as fuel generator or a battery, you don’t need to charge them up or get fuel to keep them working.
There is a bit more tech behind it, so if you want more details you can check out this resource.
Solar is more affordable than ever
As the technology has developed and been more widely used, costs have plummeted. This is great as it means that solar powered machinery has become more and more affordable for use in agriculture. Recently the cost of energy produced by a solar PV panel is less than $1 per Watt compared to $77 in 1980.
This reduction in cost has gone hand in hand with improvements in efficiency (amount of useful energy out compared to the energy in). In fact, in energy terms, Futurepump solar water pumps are now more efficient than petrol pumps.
The combination of these changes is what allowed our inventor, Gert Jan Bom, to develop the solar pumps we make today. And as this tech continues to be refined, this cost is only getting cheaper – can you say that about petrol or diesel costs?
Once you have your solar panels, you should get decades of clean, free energy. There are no major ongoing maintenance costs, just keep them clean and make sure no hippos go standing on them – we learnt that one the hard way!
Using solar power to irrigate your farm
The demand for solar water pumps is growing, and it is no surprise why.
Water pumps allow you to irrigate your farm more efficiently, getting better crops and larger harvests. Using solar to power your pump provides even more benefits too.
With solar energy, when your crops need irrigating the most; during hot, dry, sunny weather you’ve got all that sunshine to use to pump water right there on your farm. If you’re used to using petrol pumps then you’ll immediately recognise the major benefits of no longer needing to buy fuel – less travel, fewer expenses, and no interrupted irrigation.
You can also leave your solar water pump to get on with irrigation, so that’s less labour for you and more time for other things.
And what’s more, they are more environmentally friendly than alternatives. With no polluting fumes, you’ll have cleaner air on your farm and no chance of any chemical leaks into your soils.
These benefits should be seen on your farm season after season, year after year – solar water pumps should last you for years.
Solar energy really has been a game-changer in the last decade for smallholder farmers and the advantages of solar are being increasingly seen across the tropics.
At Futurepump, we have worked hard to make the most of these advantages of solar energy for farmers choosing our solar water pumps.
We are experts in the manufacturing of solar water pumps, with over 9,000 solar pumps sold in more than 20 countries – and counting!
Find your nearest distributor for more details.