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Enabling Sustainable Irrigation through Hydro-Powered Pumps for Canals

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Irrigation pump exploits free energy for sustainable agriculture

European farmers are striving to reduce their water usage through water-saving irrigation technologies while optimising their energy costs for pumping to ensure long-term economic and environmental sustainability.

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Irrigation requires energy as electrical or fossil fuel driven pumps are used to raise water from rivers and canals, which is then distributed among crops. This requires significant energy consumption and capital expenditure by farmers and their communities. The EU-funded HyPump project addressed this challenge by creating an innovative irrigation pump and testing it at two demonstration sites in Spain. “The device converts the freely available energy from the flow of existing irrigation canals to provide water directly to the agriculture plots without the need for any fossil fuel or electricity for it to operate,” states Lennart Budelmann, Managing Director of Dutch SME aQysta.

Clean and effective

The HyPump is a new type of water-powered pump, designed specifically for irrigation canals to deliver pressurised water to drip or sprinkler systems at zero operational cost. A modernised water wheel uses the hydropower from the water flow of an irrigation canal to drive a pump that draws water from the canal. The water is directly provided to a drip or sprinkler irrigation system, or is collected in an elevated reservoir, which provides enough pressure for the water to irrigate the field with drip or sprinkler irrigation by gravity. In one day, the system which can be directly monitored and controlled from a smart phone, can pump up to 800 000 litres of water without the need of fuel or electricity. Moreover, a single pump is capable of servicing around 20 hectares of land and is designed to last for 25 years. The HyPump is a pollution-free and fish-friendly form of renewable hydropower that can be customised according to the site for use on any section of the canal. This includes the horizontal flow in canals but also canal drop structures, which are used to pass water to a lower elevation to dissipate its energy (velocity) as it passes over.

A global leader in sustainable agriculture

To come to a commercially scalable solution, aQysta also developed the underlying hydraulic models required to seamlessly integrate the HyPump system into the existing canal infrastructures, thereby requiring no additional space. At the same time, the project addressed the underlying organisational and supply chain challenges with respect to the commercial upscaling of the technology. The HyPump offers a new type of irrigation pump to farmers in Spain and other southern European countries, as well as Asia and Latin America, and will provide significant cost savings compared to alternative technologies currently on the market. Specifically, the pump is expected to obtain up to 50 % savings on the overall costs for modernising infrastructures and running an irrigation system with respect to competing electric or fuel-driven solutions, and up to 37 % savings with respect to solar pumps.


HyPump, irrigation, water, pump, canal, energy, hydropower

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