Suitability mapping framework for solar photovoltaic pumps for smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa uri icon

abstract

  • As solar panels become more affordable, solar photovoltaic (PV) pumps have been identified as a high potential water-lifting technology to meet the growing irrigation demand in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). However, little is known about the geo-spatial potential of solar-based PV pumping for irrigation taking into account not only solar radiation but also the availability of water resources and linkage to markets. This study developed a suitability framework using multi-criteria analysis in an open source geographic information system (GIS) environment and tested it in the case of Ethiopia. The accessibility of water resources was the driving factor for different scenarios. Suitability results following the groundwater scenarios showed good agreement with the available referenced well depth data. Comparing the suitability maps with available land use data showed that on average 9% (96 10(3) ha) of Ethiopian irrigated and 18% (3,739 10(3) ha) of rainfed land would be suitable for solar PV pump irrigation. Furthermore, small solar PV pumps could be an alternative water-lifting technology for 11% of the current and future small motorized hydrocarbon fuel pumps on smallholder farms (2,166 10(3) ha). Depending on the technical pump capacity, between 155 10(3) ha and 204 10(3) ha of land would be suitable for solar PV pumps and provide smallholder fanners with the option to either pump from small reservoirs or shallow groundwater. With the ongoing interest in development for smallholder irrigation, the application of this model will help to upscale solar PV pumps for smallholder farmers in SSA as a climate-smart technology in an integrated manner.

publication date

  • 2018
  • 2018