PV water pumping systems for grassland and farmland conservation

University dissertation from Västerås : Mälardalen University

Abstract: Grassland degradation is considered as one of the worst environmental and economic problems in China because of the negative impacts on water and food security. The application of the photovoltaic water pumping (PVWP) technology for irrigation is an innovative and sustainable solution to curb the progress of grassland desertification and to promote the conservation of farmland in remote areas. The combination of PVWP with water saving irrigation techniques and the sustainable management of the water resources enhances the grass productivity enabling to halt wind and rainfall erosion and to provide higher incomes and better living conditions for farmers. PVWP systems have been used for more than 40 years especially for drinking purposes, livestock watering and irrigation in small-medium size applications. Nevertheless, several knowledge gaps still exist and system failures still occur, which are mainly bounded to the system design procedure and optimization. The technical and economic feasibilities related to the system implementation, especially effectiveness and profitability, need to be addressed. Moreover, irrigation in remote areas constrained by availability of water resources has to be investigated for a better understanding of PVWP system integration with the environment and for optimization purposes. This thesis is to bridge the current knowledge gaps, optimize system implementation and prevent system failures  Validation of the models adopted and optimization of the system on the basis of solar energy resources and exploitable groundwater has been performed for a pilot PVWP system in Inner Mongolia. The match between the water supplied through the pumping system and the grass water demand has been studied, and the effects of pumping on the available resources and the crop productivity have been evaluated. The economic analyses have also been conducted in order to establish the most cost effective solution to provide water for irrigation and to evaluate the project profitability. In addition, the CO2 emission reductions by using PV technology have been assessed as well. It was found that the proper designed PVWP system represents the best technical and economic solution to provide water for irrigation in the remote areas compared to other water pumping technologies, such as diesel water pumping and wind power water pumping due to the high positive net present values and short payback periods.

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