Dissemination of technical and economical feasible solutions for solar photovoltaic (PV) irrigation in ECOWAS

Accra, 28/June/2018 - The ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy efficiency (ECREEE) has organized a research dissemination workshop on the Economic Viability of Large Scale Solar Photovoltaic Irrigation in the ECOWAS region. The workshop took place in Accra, Ghana on the 28th of June 2018 and featured more than 60 participants from the 15 ECOWAS countries. The workshop was organized in the framework of research collaboration between the ECREEE and the Universidad Politécnica De Madrid (UPM) on the efficient use of climate change adaptation technologies in water usages (e.g. irrigation supply) (or) storm water/flood management in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) cities. The research activity was funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Considering that West African communities are largely agrarian and agriculture is often the sole source of household income for rural dwellers, and that agricultural productivity is further constrained by climate change especially for many of the countries who rely on rain-fed agriculture. In addition, many communities are still not serviced by the national grid. Farmers in the sub region, face many challenges as a result of the unreliability of rainfall coupled with high energy prices, low crop yields, and lack of access to modern farming technologies.

Also the high water and energy consuming nature of modern irrigation applications for agricultural needs poses economic constraints even for large holder famers.  As a result, many farmers in West Africa do not have access to adequate irrigation infrastructure to move the water to and through their farms even with increasing number of innovative, affordable and sustainable technologies that are available.

In view of this, ECREEE in collaboration with the Universidad Politécnica De Madrid (UPM) sought to evaluate the conditions in which large power PV irrigation systems are economically feasible in the ECOWAS region. 

The objective of the research was to determine the technical and economic feasibility of photovoltaic (PV) irrigation systems in terms of efficiency and quality performance. This specific objective was to try to prove that the PV pumping technology can reduce the cost of water production up to 60% when compared with conventional energy sources, taking into account the real costs in specific countries.

The workshop therefore aimed at disseminating knowledge to the ECOWAS region and targets the most representative players and actors in the irrigation sector including the energy sector. The event featured the participation of Directors of Agriculture, end user farmers such as the Farmers associations from different countries, the private sector and renewable energy promotors and the Directors of Energy from the 15 ECOWAS member states including various international organizations working in the field of agriculture and irrigation.

The workshop brought together panellist from the different stakeholder groups and it served as a platform to  present case studies experiences from the High-Power PV irrigation facilities installed during MASLOWATEN Project in Europe.