Farmers in the Sahara Desert benefit from solar-powered water pump with Optidrive technology

Farmers in a remote part of the Sahara Desert in Egypt can now access water for irrigation thanks to a solar-powered pumping project using Invertek Drives variable frequency drive (VFD) technology.

Water in the Western Desert is scarce, making it difficult to sustain agricultural activities. Despite a water well located in a part of the desert, the off-grid location made it unviable for pumping.

That was until a sales partner of Invertek Drives was brought in to consider designing and installing a solar-powered water pump solution using the Optidrive P2 Solar Pump VFD.

MAS Trading, a specialist in automation systems based in Cairo, worked with a charity wanting to pump the water into a reservoir above ground. The water would then be used by local farmers for irrigation. Profits from the water use would be used to fund the charity’s work supporting children.

Optidrive P2 Solar Pump helps overcome a challenging situation

“It was a challenging situation. The water would have to be pumped from 35 metres underground in an area inaccessible by grid electricity. A diesel generator wasn’t cost-effective as this would need to be constantly refuelled and maintained,” said Tamer Tolba of MAS Trading.

“Solar is a natural resource, and we devised a system using an array of photovoltaic panels in tandem with the Invertek P2 Solar Pump VFD. The electricity generated would power the VFD and the motor pump during the daylight hours.”

The 40HP, DC input P2 Solar VFD was used to control a 40HP water pump. Fourteen photovoltaic (PV) panels were used, each providing 405W each. A water flow of 110 cubic metres an hour was achieved.

One of the key features of the Optidrive Solar P2 is the Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) algorithm. This continuously adapts the system load for maximum system output under varying conditions of irradiance and temperature; such as dawn and dusk.

“Our client was impressed at the amount of water being pumped from the well. We were also achieving the best efficiency out of the photovoltaic panels,” said Tamer.

“The farmers soon had access to the water in the reservoir which has transformed the way they can work in the area.”

The P2 Solar Pump VFD has a dual supply mode. It can be powered by a DC voltage coming from PV arrays or the mains grid. It is available with an extended DC operative voltage range of 345-800Vdc and 185-410Vdc.

The P2 Solar Pump is designed specifically for applications involving watering, irrigation, agriculture, swimming pools, water supplies, water treatment and others where solar energy can be harnessed.

Difficult to reach or off-grid locations

Quite often these are in hard-to-reach or off-grid locations. However, many are also in commercial or residential areas where the advantages of Solar / PV technology can be used for environmental or cost reasons.

It is available in IP20, IP55, and IP66 / NEMA 4X enclosures, making them suitable for all environments and conditions.

The range includes 0.75kW to 250kW, 1HP to 350HP. It includes an extended DC operative voltage range, 345 to 800Vdc HV, 185 to 410Vdc LV which increases the system operational time per day and reducing unnecessary stoppages caused by the low array voltages during dawn and dusk.

The P2 Solar Pump has a wide range of additional features. These include advanced pump protection functions; remote monitoring using Modbus RTU or CANopen; digital inputs for tank high and well low water detection.

It also has a pipe fill function that allows a configurable period for the pipe to fill slowly before operating normally.

For more media information, contact:
Owain Betts, PR, Media and Communications
t: +44 (0)1938 558 253
m: +44 (0)7787 437 052