Paradigm Shift Towards Solar Powered Centrifugal Pumps

Excerpt from the Sept. 2019 article from Modern Pumping Today by Dave Namrata

Rapidly changing agricultural technology combined with constant improvement in farm machinery is leading to wide adoption of energy-efficient centrifugal pumps, creating pressure and flow in the irrigation system. Solar-powered water pumping system in agriculture is gaining popularity as an alternative to grid electricity. The modern agricultural system has led to the growing demand for irrigation solutions that reduces energy cost, improves productivity and safeguards water resource. Moreover, a reduction in the price of solar panels and components in solar power systems is driving the adoption of solar-powered centrifugal pumps and emerging as an economically viable option for irrigation.

The growing concern towards wastewater treatment in the past few years has resulted in wide application of centrifugal pumps. Rising competitiveness in the market is resulting in the development of centrifugal pump technology leading to better performance and reduction in the overall cost. From a design perspective, manufacturers of centrifugal pumps are focusing on improving the quality of shaft steel in the pumps to withstand vibration, fatigue, and stress. According to some industry experts, water shortage is likely to impact more than half of the world population by 2025. This is accelerating the wastewater treatment process across the countries.

Increasing energy costs and growing environmental awareness are motivating pump manufacturers to focus on developing energy-efficient centrifugal pumps for the end-use industries. Moreover, centrifugal pumps operating at a high speed pumping a large amount of liquid consume more power. This is leading to the integration of economically feasible and reliable solar power in the centrifugal pumping system.

Long product life and low maintenance cost of solar-powered centrifugal pumps are emerging as the perfect alternative to other pumping systems. Industries consider various factors while selecting a pumping system, such as pump lifecycle cost, including initial cost, maintenance cost and energy cost. On average, centrifugal pumps can consume around 60 percent of motor energy in the facility resulting in higher energy and maintenance costs.

Centrifugal Pumps
Centrifugal pumps generated by solar power

 

Increasing Focus on Energy Efficiency

In recent years, with an increasing cost of energy worldwide, energy efficiency is gaining attention from governments and pump manufacturers across countries. Despite various challenges, pump manufacturers are adding sustainable design features, enhancing productivity, quality, and services.

Solar-powered centrifugal pumps have gained popularity and are available on a large scale in the developed countries. However, the high initial cost of solar-powered centrifugal pumps as compared to the cost of fuel-powered pumps is the main obstacle for solar pumps in developing countries. This is driving the pump manufacturers in the developing regions to design next generation, cost-effective solar powered centrifugal pumps, eliminating the need for grid connection or fossil fuel.

Use of solar photovoltaic technology for centrifugal pumping system has gained immense popularity. Continuous reduction in solar cells cost is likely to drive the application for centrifugal pumps powered by the solar photovoltaic system in agriculture and other industries.

solar panels for centrifugal pumps
Solar panels for centrifugal pumps

With an aim to save the energy cost, replacement and refurbishing of the pumping system in water and wastewater treatment industry is on the rise. There has been a rise in the adoption of centrifugal pumps powered by solar energy in this industry.

Driven by rapid industrialization and urbanization, municipal water and wastewater industry in emerging countries is creating growth opportunities for centrifugal pumps manufacturers. However, manufacturers are facing a flood of new competition due to the increasing demand for energy-efficient pumps and stringent regulations. According to the American Hydraulics Institute, around 30 percent of the total electrical energy consumed by pumping systems can be saved by developing a highly efficient system and using appropriate pumps.

First-generation PV pumping systems using centrifugal pumps have shown significant advancements in recent years. The current solar-powered pumping technology uses an electronic system by further increasing the output power, performance and efficiency. PV modules account for nearly 60 to 80 percent of the total cost of PV system. A significant decline in the cost of PV modules across various regions has also reduced the overall cost of the pumping system. Moreover, an increase in the cost of crude oil, diesel, and gasoline has made solar powered pumps financially attractive.

There exists immense growth opportunity for centrifugal pumps in wastewater, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, and chemical industries, as the sectors are set to grow at a stable pace in the near future. However, centrifugal pump demand will continue to be hit by the nuclear power generation, mining, and oil and gas sectors, which are likely to experience slow growth.

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