The main objective of the project is to develop an integrated PhotoVoltaic system for pumping water and the irrigation of high-value crops powered solely by photovoltaic energy. A further objective is to provide a connection between the technology installed and the people who will use it and benefit from it. This can only be achieved if the users, in this case, farmers, are able to operate the system without major complications. In other words, the task should not end when the system becomes fully operational.
The PV pump was installed and operated successfully in a real irrigation environment. There were some initial difficulties, especially relating to obtaining reliable consumption profiles from each of the farmers, but once these had been obtained the pumping system could operate and be monitored regularly. The automatic irrigation scheme was established at some pilot locations and more devices are expected to be installed for crop irrigation. However, the intelligent software for the watering network system requires further development before it can operate successfully.
The farming community is happy with the PV pumping system because they can see that it is operating successfully. However, there is less interest in the intelligent irrigation system: more demonstration and operational experience needs to be carried out before the system can fully demonstrate its advantages.
The integrated system approach, opens up new innovative ways of systems operation, specially with respect to irrigation systems. Easier operation in remote areas and higher reliability due to automatic and autonomous operation are major benefits expected from the work.
PV technology is well developed in Europe. However, the problems that one may encounter are related to technology adaptation. Some work has to be done on the interaction between the technology and the end users. The undertaking should create conditions for the enlargement of the PV technology market since local people would be able to absorb the technology. There is a good linkage between water needs and available solar energy, but there is still a much to be done to bring photovoltaic technology to people who need it.
The results expected include a reliable daily stand-by relationship with the users. We are conscious that scientific and technical work is complete only when common people are able to absorb the final product as a whole and live together as a community.