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Enabling Sustainable Irrigation through Hydro-Powered Pumps for Canals

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - HyPump (Enabling Sustainable Irrigation through Hydro-Powered Pumps for Canals)

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2019-09-30

In irrigation water cannot be decoupled from energy. Raising water from rivers and canals and distribute it to the crops requires pumping of large volumes of water with a sizeable amount of pressure, which is generated by means of electric energy or by fuel-driven pumps. This turns into a substantial increase of energy consumption and capital expenditure, which has become a real concern for farmers and their communities. Besides, sharp increases in energy tariffs almost doubled the energy bills that irrigators have to pay, which accounts for up to 40% of the total irrigation costs for farmers’ communities. In a context exacerbated by the ongoing climate change, European farmers are striving to reduce their water footprint by means of water saving irrigation technologies while optimising their energy costs for pumping, with the aim to ensure long- term economic and environmental sustainability. To address this global need, aQysta has designed the HyPump, an innovative pump which converts the energy from the flow of existing irrigation canals to pressure for pumping water, delivering pressurized water directly to the agriculture plots without requiring any fuel nor electricity to be operated. This Phase 2 is focussed on the industrialisation and field tests of the HyPump, which will allow farmers obtaining up to 75% savings on the overall costs for modernizing 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. Through the Cost Benefit Analysis run during Phase 1, annual net savings have been estimated in the range of 5k€-8k€ per hectare with respect to electric pumping. Besides, a payback time in the range of 2,5-4 years has been estimated when switching from an electric or fuel- operated system to the HyPump, obtained with zero environmental footprint with respect to fuel or energy powered pumps.
Since the beginning of the project we produced a market requirements document by means of interactions with stakeholders of irrigation communities, farmers, engineering companies and government authorities in two target Countries, Spain and Italy. The requirements have been analysed, constantly updated and turned into product specification for the design and engineering team throughout the development process.
The product development activities for defining the HyPump design and prototyping its components have been accomplished, based on the marketing requirements. This led to the implementation of the first demonstrator of the HyPump, which operates with an integrated monitoring system. At the same time attention has been paid to settling the correct trade-off between cost targets, regulations and certifications as well as lifetime requirements.
Furthermore, the expected and correct functioning of all components as well as their interaction has been validated throughout the process by means of simulations, prototypes and sampling on both small and full scale.
The aQysta team also worked to develop a design tool able to determine the optimal configuration of the full HyPump system for a given specific application scenario, by studying real application cases. Several canals were analysed for developing a parametric canal model which describes the most critical morphologic and hydraulic parameters of the canals.. Furthermore, the effects of the HyPump on the canal water levels have been simulated and were optimized for seamless integration with the irrigation conveyance, as well as the spacing between multiple pumps within a canal, so to minimize spacing without noticeable power loss. All of these aspects have been integrated in a semi-automatic configuration tool.
Since the beginning of the project, the marketing and communication strategy has been defined and put into practice. After having identified the main stakeholders, the HyPump solution was exhibited at several international trade fairs, at investor events, but also at high-level events including political actors.
Maximising efficiency in the use of water is becoming crucial, to enlarge the ratio of irrigated surface over the given area of agriculture lands and, as a result, to increase agricultural yield on the given agricultural lands. In this sense, with nearly 10 million people connected to agriculture for their livelihoods, Europe is propelling a step-change in irrigation practices. In fact, in the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 (focus area 5A – Increasing efficiency in water use), Europe has set the objective of modernizing 15% of the overall irrigated area. This change is strictly linked to irrigation modernization through more efficient systems, with drip and sprinkler devices being the most adopted option for their high efficiency. Unfortunately, the economic burden of such modernization projects has become a major concern for farmers and communities.
In fact, for several irrigation communities, access to electricity entails significant infrastructure cost, as well as substantial investment for implementing drip or sprinkler system and for the electricity cost to operate the pump.
Within this scenario, the socio-economic impact of the HyPump can be summarized in the following key advantages:

•Cost savings. Hydro-powered pumping is the most cost-effective irrigation technology in geographically feasible areas (FAO). HyPump is poised to allow for up to 75% overall savings compared to electric and diesel pumping in case of lands to be modernized (considering infrastructures, operating and maintenance costs), and 37% cheaper than solar pumps. It also provides consistent savings (up to 70%) for farmers who switch from modernized electric pumps to the HyPump.

•Economic sustainability: the estimated Payback time is in the range of 2,6-3,8 years when switching from an electric or fuel-operated system to the HyPump, depending on the size and specific requirements of the irrigated lands. The Cost Benefit Analysis conducted in the Phase 1 on an actual business case in Spain confirmed potential savings for energy costs of almost half a million € over a lifetime period of 25 years.

•Environmental friendliness. The system employs renewable energy as a source of energy for propulsion. The HyPump is completely integrated in the canal and it does not harm the environment, also allowing to significantly reduce the energy footprint compared to electric and fuel pumps.

•Simplicity. The HyPump is simple to maintain and repair, as there are no electronic components, and it’s ideal for rural settings. The system is relatively easy to use, and regular maintenance at the beginning/end of an irrigation season can easily be performed by the farmers, which translates into a significant reduction in costs.
Visualization of the first HyPump Demonstrator