Technical and Economic Analysis of Solar Photovoltaic Water Pumps against Conventional Systems in Common Crops in Ilocos Sur, Philippines

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Cherie Orpia, Julius Orpia, Milagros Liberato


Irrigation is a well-established procedure on many farms and is practiced around the world. However, typical irrigation systems consume a great amount of conventional energy using electric motors and generators powered by fuel. The cost of solar panels has been continually decreasing, which encourages its usage in various sectors, including agriculture, where irrigation is a crucial economic driver. The study analyzed and compared PV technology against conventional irrigation technology in common crops in Ilocos Sur. Equipment sizes were optimally determined using available irrigation requirements, rainfall data, farm area, and available equipment sizes in Ilocos Sur. Equipment sizing and economic analysis were based on one hectare of land. The cash flow analysis was conducted over an assumed equipment life of 20 years to be able to come up with levelized water pumping costs. Results showed that with typical farmland in Ilocos Sur, the farmland must be alternately planted with rice and corn to be able to be fully utilized all year round. The study showed that the solar pump installation has a heavy upfront investment cost compared to the conventional system. Due to no fuel and little to no maintenance needed, the solar pump turned out to be more economically feasible in the long run. In the 20-year life of both equipment, pumping one cubic meter of water using a solar pump is only PHP 1.35 while for gasoline, it is PHP 5.44 or around four times more expensive based on the prevailing cost at the time of the study.

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