Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Monitoring of photovoltaic pumps in developing countries

Site performance data are essential to the development of newer, more efficient renewable energy systems that are well adapted to their target operating environments. Stand-alone photovoltaic (PV) pump systems are still a relatively new technology that would greatly benefit from such an input of data. Applied monitoring of stand-alone photovoltaic (PV) pumps at sites in West Africa has enabled the set-up of a large database on representative PV pump performance data and development of new standards and operating procedures. The monitoring took place over a one year period and involved the setting up and operation of 10 monitoring units at PV pump sites in 4 West African countries. Data collected from these sites were analysed and used to write general recommendations for PV pump system improvement and procedures for a specific monitoring approach to be used at other sites. Other findings were fed back to product designers and manufacturers. These will facilitate the future monitoring of such sites and provide designers and manufacturers with an important benchmark study for this energy technology. The project has also been particularly successful in designing monitoring equipment capable of being left unattended for long periods, often in harsh environments. An important finding was that the energy potential to be provided by the pumps was on average 40% higher than was actually necessary. This means that pumps could either be redesigned to match anticipated demand or downgraded into a less expensive design. Alternatively, additional features could be added to the pump to use the excess power, such as lighting or battery charging.

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