Solar-based groundwater pumping for irrigation: Sustainability, policies, and limitations uri icon

abstract

  • The increasing demand for solar-powered irrigation systems in agriculture has spurred a race for projects as it potentially offers a cost-effective and sustainable energy solution to off-grid farmers while helping food production and sustaining livelihoods. As a result, countries such as Morocco and Yemen have been promoting this technology for farmers and national plans with variable finance and subsidy schemes like in India have been put forward. By focusing on the application of solar photovoltaic (PV) pumping systems in groundwater-fed agriculture, this paper highlights the need to further study the impacts, opportunities and limitations of this technology within the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) nexus. It shows how most policies and projects promoting solar-based groundwater pumping for irrigation through subsidies and other incentives overlook the real financial and economic costs of this solution as well as the availability of water resources and the potential negative impacts on the environment caused by groundwater over-abstraction. There is a need to monitor groundwater abstraction, targeting subsidies and improving the knowledge and monitoring of resource use. Failing to address these issues could lead to further groundwater depletion, which could threaten the sustainability of this technology and dependent livelihoods in the future
  • The increasing demand for solar-powered irrigation systems in agriculture has spurred a race for projects as it potentially offers a cost-effective and sustainable energy solution to off-grid farmers while helping food production and sustaining livelihoods. As a result, countries such as Morocco and Yemen have been promoting this technology for farmers and national plans with variable finance and subsidy schemes like in India have been put forward. By focusing on the application of solar photovoltaic (PV) pumping systems in groundwater-fed agriculture, this paper highlights the need to further study the impacts, opportunities and limitations of this technology within the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) nexus. It shows how most policies and projects promoting solar-based groundwater pumping for irrigation through subsidies and other incentives overlook the real financial and economic costs of this solution as well as the availability of water resources and the potential negative impacts on the environment caused by groundwater over-abstraction. There is a need to monitor groundwater abstraction, targeting subsidies and improving the knowledge and monitoring of resource use. Failing to address these issues could lead to further groundwater depletion, which could threaten the sustainability of this technology and dependent livelihoods in the future.

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2017
  • 2017