Change in Perception: Solar Water Pumping Systems Work for Irrigation Purposes!

Like many people in Nepal, field managers of Sahara Nepal Saving and Credit Cooperative Co. Ltd., a partner organization of Winrork International for FMO and CleanStart projects, assumed that photovoltaic solar based water pumping (PVWP) systems generally discharge only a small amount of water and are unsuitable for irrigation purpose where a large amount of water is a pre-requisite.

On 26th June 2016, Winrock International in coordination with SunFarmer Nepal organized a field visit for 42 members of Sahara Nepal and one member of ACE Development Bank to a PVWP system installed at Haripur, Basanpatti Pokhariya of Saptari District. The on-the-ground demonstration of this system completely changed the perception of the participants. “This solar water pump operation in terms of water quantity and speed is similar to that of diesel water pump. This simple demonstration changed my opinion: yes, solar water pumps can be used for irrigation and we should promote it in our area.” says Mr. Ishwor Bhattrai of Sahara Nepal.

The visited PVWP system, was installed one year ago with technical due diligence and commissioning by SunFarmer Nepal. The system consists of 1,200 Wp PV module, one HP three phase AC pump and a control system. The pump is directly coupled with has a direct hand pump set. With about 5 meters head, the system discharges around 70,000 liters per day.

“I have enough water throughout the year, I don’t have to wait for rain or use diesel water pump set for planting crops or vegetable at my field”, says Mr. Ramakanta Chaudhari, one of the beneficiaries out of five farmers. SunFarmer is promoting this type of PVWP system in terai region of Nepal to address water scarcity for irrigation purposes. The average cost of the similar systems is about NRs 400,000.

This field visit to demonstration sites as well as awareness raising programs, interaction programs on PVWP system are proved to be an effective way in changing perception of the related stakeholders starting from those who are responsible for policy intervention; promoters, financing institutions and most importantly beneficiaries.