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EghtesadOnline: The first phase of a project to electrify 60,000 agricultural wells with renewable energy has got off the ground, director for rural electrification at Iran Power Generation, Distribution and Transmission Company (Tavanir) said.

“This phase entails the electrification of 11,000 agricultural wells with solar energy by the yearend in cooperation with the private sector,” Ali Chehel-Amirani was also quoted as saying by ISNA.

As per the agreement signed between Tavanir and Iran Fuel Conservation Company, solar panels with a total electricity generation capacity of 3,000 megawatts are ready to be installed on agro wells whose electric motors run on diesel.

“Replacing diesel engines with solar-powered electric pumps can help save 660 million liters of fuel per annum that can be exported,” he said.

The Tavanir official noted that electrifying pumps in water wells with solar energy will help reduce farmers' costs by 80% from their current expenses of using diesel-based engines.

“About 50,000 tankers annually supply diesel to agro wells. Hence, replacing diesel with solar energy will also help reduce road accidents,” he said.



Environmental Impacts

According to Ali Mobini Dehkordi, managing director of IFCO, using solar energy to power the water pumps instead of diesel will also have positive impacts on the environment since solar power is a totally clean source of energy and unlike petroleum, it does not emit greenhouse gases.

The use of petroleum generator-powered pumps has negative impacts on both the financial means of the farmers and the environment, as diesel is considered a dirty fuel.

“By electrifying agricultural wells via solar energy, when agro wells are off in winters, the electricity can be injected into the national power network,” Dehkordi said.

A solar water pump is commonly used in residential and commercial areas, as well as for agricultural irrigation in the world. Through solar panels, the pump can eliminate the cost of energy and provide a more feasible option that uses energy from the sun (and not fuel-burning mechanisms) for pumping water.

At a time when the entire world is switching to solar, using the sun’s energy in water pumping systems can significantly help accelerate the development of agriculture in rural and remote areas. The concept known as solar-powered irrigation is used in many regions.

Solar energy might be the easiest way for farmers to produce energy, especially for those living off electricity grids with poor infrastructure around their homes. 

The concept of solar irrigation represents a virtuous cycle. When the sun shines, it feeds the irrigation system and the crops dependent on water in sunny weather. Therefore, a large quantity of energy is being released right at a time when it is needed the most.

The project to use solar energy for water wells comes after the government’s initiative to equip agro wells with smart meters.

The Energy Ministry has been equipping traditional wells with smart meters that help the regular and efficient monitoring of power and water consumption.  

Smart wells are advanced wells with sensors and valves installed downhole to allow easy and systematic monitoring by utilities.



Nomadic Families

In related news, the Energy Ministry’s news portal Paven quoted Chehel-Amirani as saying that 25,000 nomadic families are being supplied with portable solar power generators nationwide.

Over 4,850 nomadic households in remote areas now have access to renewable energy, namely solar and wind power.

Expanding renewable energy to nomads via affordable light photovoltaic panels is on the Energy Ministry’s agenda.

Solar panels generate enough power to help families meet their needs like charging emergency lights and cellphones and use the TV in the deserts and plains.

Nomads generally are on the move in search of pasture and water for cattle, set up tents and nurture livestock.

Technology has created the condition to help nomads and tribal communities with facilities to ease their daily, often difficult, tasks without interfering in their way of life.

However, the rapid expansion of urban areas has negatively impacted nomadic populations that mostly straddle regions in South Khorasan, Fars, Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari and Kohgilouyeh-Boyerahmad provinces.

Data show that nomads made up almost one-fourth of Iran's population a century ago. These numbers are currently below 2% of the total population of 80 million. 


Electrification Agro