Leading water and energy solutions company Davis & Shirtliff has called on a wider adoption of solar water pumping technology in the country to open up the bracket of access to water in a cheaper, more sustainable and greener way. The company has made the recommendation as the country gears itself towards the World Water Day celebrations in March whose theme is ‘Leaving No One Behind’; aimed at ensuring countries find ways to ensure access to clean water for everyone in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
According to Water.Org, with a population of 46 million, 41 percent of Kenyans still rely on unimproved water sources, such as ponds, shallow wells and rivers, while 59 percent of Kenyans use unimproved sanitation solutions. These challenges are especially evident in the rural areas and the urban slums. Only 9 out of 55 public water service providers in Kenya provide continuous water supply, leaving people to find their own ways of searching for appropriate solutions to these basic needs.
Eng. Holi pointed out that Kenyans at the national, county and domestic levels should leverage on the power of the sun and the fact that adopting solar pumping is a move towards greener technologies with low maintenance requirements as compared to generators. He also explained that fuel is not required for operation and this virtually eliminates operations and maintenance costs.
He further added, ‘’With specific regards to food security, you realize all year round farming in a country like Kenya is impossible without irrigation, but with the emergence of solar-powered irrigation systems, lack of power supply or inability to get fuel to power pumping machines will be a thing of the past. Solar-powered Irrigation will enable farmers to cultivate one crop twice or three times on the same piece of land in one year. Also, irrigation will enable farmers to be less dependent on rainfall, since insufficient, uncertain and irregular rain causes uncertainty in agriculture while water availability which can be solar-pumped ensures higher productivity and the possibility of multiple cropping is high.’’
Affordable health care is another key pillar where solar pumping is important. Unreliable or inadequate water supplies and sanitation have been shown to be a major factor leading to disease. Using solar power for community water supply for example will guarantee more reliable water supply and reduce the incidences of disease.
Some counties as Eng. Holi explained have already taken the lead in adopting the technology with Davis & Shirtliff having undertaken a major project in Meru County.
“Davis & Shirtliff has undertaken hundreds of solar pumping projects across the region. Projects worth noting in 2017 and 2018 include 100 borehole pumps for Meru County, 11 borehole pumps in Uganda for the Danish Refugee Council, 52 borehole pumps for the Uganda Ministry of Water and a number of borehole pumps done in Baringo County through JICA,” Eng. Holi explained.
Davis & Shirtliff said they expect solar pumping to be a key part of their business in 2019 with Eng. Holi pointing out that there are several upcoming projects for 2019 that D&S has bid for in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania adding that they have high expectations of those projects.
A solar powered water pumping system Eng. Holi explained is made up of two basic components, the PV panels that generate direct current (DC) electricity from the sun and the pump which pumps water whenever the sun shines.
“Historically solar pumping was only possible using special DC pump but in recent years, pump inverters have been developed that take the DC power from the panels and convert it into AC power so that any standard pump can be run off solar,” he added.–