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How Solar Water Pumps Can Provide Clean Drinking Water in India


Solar Water Pumps for Clean Drinking Water
Solar Water Pumps for Clean Drinking Water

Access to clean drinking water is a major challenge in many parts of India, especially in rural areas. According to a report by WaterAid India, 163 million people lack access to clean water close to their homes. The health impacts of using contaminated water are severe, leading to waterborne diseases like cholera, typhoid, and diarrhoea.


Providing infrastructure like electric pumps and piping to remote villages is difficult and expensive. This is where solar water pumps can provide a sustainable solution. Solar pumps run on sunlight, without the need for grid electricity. They can pump water from wells and boreholes for clean drinking water access. In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits of solar water pumps for drinking water in India.


Benefits of Solar Water Pumps


Solar pumps are a cost-effective, reliable solution that can supply drinking water to rural households and villages. Here are some of the main advantages:


  1. Access to Groundwater: Solar pumps can draw water from bored wells, tube wells, and open wells. This provides access to cleaner groundwater for drinking compared to contaminated surface water. Solar pumps work even in remote locations without access to electricity.

  2. Lower Operating Costs: Solar PV panels generate electricity to run the pump during daylight hours. There are no recurring fuel costs involved. Solar pumps have a long lifespan of over 15 years, with minimal maintenance needed. The operating costs are extremely low compared to diesel pumps.

  3. Energy Independence: Solar PV systems generate power on-site. This makes the water supply self-sufficient and immune to disruptions in the electricity grid. Solar pumps provide a decentralized water access solution.

  4. Environmental Sustainability: Solar pumps reduce carbon emissions by displacing diesel generators. They promote sustainable water usage without depleting groundwater levels aggressively, like electric pumps do. Solar power has a negligible environmental impact.

  5. Water Security: Solar pumps can continuously pump water into overhead tanks and piping so that clean water is available on demand. Rural households can have reliable access to water for drinking, washing, and other uses.

  6. Financial Savings: Households spend significant amounts of time, effort, and money to fetch water from distant sources when they lack local access. Solar pumps alleviate the financial burden and save time. The costs can be recovered within 2-3 years of use.

  7. Health Impacts: Lack of water access forces people to rely on untreated surface water that may be contaminated. Solar pumps provide clean groundwater, reducing incidences of water-borne diseases. This improves health, productivity, and quality of life.


Solar Pump Components 


Solar water pumps are a simple, reliable technology made up of two main components:


  • Solar PV Array: Made up of solar panels that generate electricity from sunlight. The number of panels is designed to match the pump power requirement.  

  • Submersible Pump: Draws water from an underground source. It is powered by the electricity from the solar panels. The pumps are designed for high efficiency and low maintenance.


The solar panels are installed above ground, while the pump itself is submerged either in a bore well or placed nearby and connected via piping. The pumps can have capacities ranging from 0.5 HP to 10 HP to match usage needs.


Drinking Water Supply Models

There are a few typical models through which solar pumps can provide drinking water in rural communities:


  • Household Solar Pumps: For families living away from central water points, individual solar pump systems can be installed. Excess water can be stored in overhead tanks.

  • Solar Powered Hand Pumps: A simple hand pump connected to a solar PV system. Water is drawn manually as required instead of active pumping. Low cost community option.

  • Solar Powered Water ATMs: Water vending machines dispense purified water on demand after solar-powered treatment. The prepaid card system manages usage and funds. 

  • Piped Water Supply: Solar pumps fill overhead reservoirs that supply water through a village piping network into household taps. Provides a continuous pressurized supply.

  • Off-Grid Solar Water Kiosks: Kiosks with rooftop solar panels pump water into storage tanks. Households can collect clean water at the kiosk daily at a low cost.


Government Programs 


The Indian government aims to provide piped water to every rural household by 2024 under the Jal Jeevan Mission. Solar pumps are being promoted under this initiative to make them sustainable and environmentally friendly. 


Some key programs include:

 

  • KUSUM scheme - 60% subsidy for solar pumps for farmers. Target of 1.75 million pumps by 2022.

  • PM Krishi Sinchai Yojana - 50% subsidy for small solar pumps for irrigation.  

  • MNRE scheme - Capital subsidies for solar pumps in rural areas for drinking water and irrigation.

  • AMRUT program - Solar pumps mandated for urban water projects to make water supply energy efficient.


Key Challenges


While solar pumps hold enormous potential, there are some challenges to be addressed:

  • High Upfront Costs: The installation cost of solar pump systems can range from ₹1.5 lakhs for smaller systems to ₹10 lakhs for 5HP pumps. Government subsidies cover only a part of this cost. Innovative financing is crucial.

  • Groundwater Overuse: Solar pumps tend to be oversized and increase unsustainable groundwater extraction. Strict regulations on borewell depths and water usage are required.

  • Water Storage: Solar power is intermittent. Storage tanks are needed to store excess water when the sun shines for use at night and on cloudy days.

  • Maintenance Skills: Many rural users need training to maintain solar pump systems properly for long-term operation. Build local technician expertise.

  • Water Quality: Water treatment is essential for contamination removal, especially fluoride and arsenic poisoning in parts of India.


Despite these limitations, the long-term benefits of solar pumps make them an indispensable tool for reliably supplying clean water sustainably to India’s rural population.


Conclusion


Access to drinking water is vital for health, dignity, and economic well-being. Solar water pumping technology offers a decentralized, cost-effective solution that harnesses India’s abundant sunlight. Solar pumps reduce the burden of water access, especially for women and children. Waaree is one of India's leading solar panel manufacturers, with over 3 decades of experience.


Waaree offers a wide range of solar pumps and customized solutions for drinking water needs. Their highly efficient solar panels and specialized water pumping systems can reliably address water access challenges in rural India. Waaree also provides technical support and maintenance services across India to ensure the long-term sustainability of solar water projects.

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