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Groundwater abstraction in rural areas is often constrained by availability of energy - rural electrification is often absent or unreliable and diesel powered pumps are noisy, polluting and expensive. While solar pumps have been around for many years, there has been growing interest as hardware costs come down and there is greater recognition that an off-grid renewable energy source is an effective and desirable solution in many contexts. However, as with all hardware and technology there are challenges around skills, quality control and lifecycle costs. Care also need to be taken that removing energy as constraint doesn't lead to unsustainable pumping and declining groundwater levels.
Worldwide, solar pumps are rapidly being installed by humanitarian and development agencies, for-profit industries, and private households. However, up-to-date guidelines and tools are lacking. The uptake rate of solar pumping installations escalates a number of impending issues, with implications for:
- planning, implementation, operation and maintenance, monitoring, and regulation of rural water supplies
- sustainability of groundwater resources in light of increased abstraction
- appropriateness and feasibility of upgrading from handpumps to solar pumps
The interrelated issues between handpumps, and solar pumps will be tackled in RWSN’s groundwater abstraction topic.
Aim by 2030
- National standardisation policies and practices ensure that corrosive handpump components are not installed.
- Rural water supply professionals consider national standardisation policies and practices for handpumps when selecting technologies.
- Solar pumping contributes significantly to the goal of universal water access, with management and regulatory systems in place to ensure sustainability of finance and the water resources.
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