Factors influencing the renewed interest in solar PV water pumping
Solar pumping is not a new technology, with projects traced as far back as the late 1970s. While the possibilities of powering pumps with solar energy attracted a lot of interest initially, this faded away quickly, and it is only in recent years that a wide range of stakeholders have increasingly turned their attention to solar pumping solutions. Several factors are behind this renewed interest.
In the global context of climate change, the need to reduce greenhouse emissions has become of paramount importance. Environmentally friendly solutions, such as adoption of solar energy, are gaining more ground, including in emergency and development programmes.
The use of renewable energy sources is increasing dramatically world- wide, with power installed doubling for five consecutive years to 2018 (IRENA, 2019).
Solar PV is one of the star performers, with an exponential increase over the last 10 years. In 2017 alone, over 40,000 new solar panels were installed every hour worldwide . This large-scale use has resulted in economies of scale with solar PV panels (over 200-fold cheaper today when compared to the late 1970s and a cost reduction of about 80 per cent in the last ten years), with predicted further cost reductions of about 40 per cent over the next ten years.
High solar radiation
Areas of the world with high and regular solar radiation (radiant energy emitted by the sun), including most of the countries where emergency and development programmes take place, are also often regions that lack reliable electrical grids or where fuel is, for logistical or other reasons, expensive and/ or of erratic supply (see Figure 1.1).
National solar private sector
Solar PV markets are rapidly evolving in the developing world with a trend that started in East Africa now spreading in West Africa and South Asia (IRENA, 2019).
This has helped create the conditions for a knowledgeable solar focused private sector to boom in many of these countries. The availability of the know-how and good-quality solar products at national level that other organizations can tap into is facilitating the expansion of the use of solar PV solutions, including solar pumping (GLOSWI, 2018a).
Technological advances in solar pumping technology have resulted in robust, versatile, and low-maintenance equipment. The extended range of powers that solar equipment can now handle means a wide range of electrical submersible and surface water pumps can be powered with solar energy.
National energy policies
The development of favourable policies committed to renewable energy goals from an increasing number of governments (REN21, 2019) is supporting the uptake of solar pumping solutions.