Solar Water Pumping – Tanzania

Getting water to the right place is both energy intensive and costly. In East Africa in general, and Tanzania in particular, providing energy to (especially rural) areas for water pumping purposes can be logistically difficult and expensive.

As such, solar pump systems are rapidly developing to replace old-fashioned, labor or fuel intensive pump systems. Power Providers installs solar water pumping systems that takes care of the entire pumping process: from pumping water out of the ground to point of end use (drinking, domestic or irrigation).

The advantages of using solar as a power source to pump water are plenty. For starters, it needs relatively little maintenance. Even in remote locations you can be assured that your system will function properly and keep doing its job. Solar water pump systems are rapidly replacing human, grid or diesel powered pumps and are frequently used to provide water to villages, the hospitality industry and the agricultural sector. It is financially viable as maintenance and fuel costs will decrease, while simultaneously using clean and reliable renewable energy harnessed from the sun (Note: have a look for yourself how much you can save using our Solar vs Diesel calculator). Moreover, the World Bank has just released information that is intended to educate on the cost effectiveness and sustainability of solar water pumping:

Power Providers are an approved sales and service partner of LORENTZ’s solar water pump systems from Germany. Since 1993 LORENTZ has pioneered, innovated and excelled in the engineering and manufacturing of solar water pumping, and as a certified partner we promise high quality and service and competitive prices. Read more about LORENTZ here.

By designing and optimizing the solar array and pump system fit for your needs, we ensure sufficient water supply all year round. Our solar pump systems can pump at a rate of up to 240m3/hour and vertically lift water up to 450m.

Power Providers can provide a full service package including the solar array, the pumping equipment, drilling and irrigation. If you are ready to request a quote, just click here.

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Brands Used:

Solar Water Pumping Systems: Lorentz, SunPumps, Future Pump

Power Providers Webstore

Normally Power Providers designs, supplies and installs solar water pumping systems for its clients, however, if you do not require an offer including consultation, design and installation you can visit our webstore here:

Solar Water Pumping: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the main components of a solar water pumping system?


How does the sun power a pump?

The photovoltaic (PV) effect produces the flow of electrons. The electrons are excited by particles of light and find the attached electrical circuit the easiest path to travel from one side of the solar cell to the other. Envision a piece of metal such as the side panel of a car. In the sun the metal warms, caused by the exciting of electrons, bouncing back and forth, creating friction, and therefore, heat. The solar cell merely takes a percentage of these electrons and directs them to flow in a path. This flow of electrons is, by definition, electricity. The wiring in the solar module collects the electricity and supplies it to the DC pump controller and motor, in turn, pumping water under direct sunlight. At night, or in cloudy conditions, electrical production and pumping is decreased or ceases completely.

Where do solar pumping systems work?

Solar pumping systems work anywhere the sun shines. East Africa and especially Tanzania enjoys plenty of sun to operate a solar pumping system economically, especially in areas with poor or no grid connection, or where generators are used.

Light intensity varies throughout the day, where morning and afternoon sunlight is less intense because it is entering the earth’s atmosphere at a high angle and passing through a greater cross section of atmosphere, which reflects and absorbs a portion of the light.

We measure sun intensity in peak full sun hours. One hour of peak sun is roughly equivalent to the sunlight on a clear summer day at noon. The sunlight or isolation levels also vary seasonally. Usually we estimate for about 6-7 hours of peak sunlight per day.

Solar water pumping works for any water source, be it boreholes, wells, river, lakes or dams.

For a Solar Water Pump, where and do you place the solar array?

The array of solar modules should be placed in a sunny spot where no shading occurs. Avoid placing the array near large trees or buildings, this could substantially reduce power output.

For these reasons we typically mount the solar modules on a pole or ground mount above any obstacles. To reduce costs it should be placed near the water source, if possible. To reduce risk of theft or tampering, we usually advice to mount high or in populated areas with ample light in the evenings.

Does a solar water pumping system require batteries? 

While batteries may seem like a good idea, they have a number of disadvantages in pumping systems and reduce the overall efficiency.

The solar modules operating voltage is dictated by the battery bank and is reduced substantially from levels which are achieved by operating the pump directly in sunlight. Batteries also require additional maintenance, adding costs and complexity. For systems that need to pump water continuously (more than what daily sunlight allows), there are two solutions. The pumping system can be coupled with existing electricity lines (if available) or hooked up with a generator to provide water in off-sun hours for a hybrid solution. Ideally, however, we suggest to install a system that pumps sufficient amounts of water during sun hours, where excess water can be stored in tanks (the storage tanks acts a battery in itself).

What does a solar water pumping system cost?

The economy, reliability and quality of solar electric power make it an excellent choice for remote water pumping. With water sources scarcely spread, where power lines are few and refueling and maintenance costs are substantial for generator use, solar water pumping has a short return on investment (between 1-5 years).

If you water source is >1km from a power line, solar is a favorable economic choice. Extending power lines or running a pump on a generator is costly and prone to breakdown. Solar pumping minimizes future costs and uncertainties. Fuel is free and moving parts are few, promising long-lasting solutions and near-zero operating costs.

How does the cost of pumping up water with solar power compare with a diesel generator? 

Generators are commonly used to provide power beyond the power line. We have a dedicated tool to calculate solar versus generators as a power choice. This tool considers all costs involved: modules, mounting structure, pumps, miscellaneous components, installation, operation, maintenance, yearly inspection and component replacement. With this we can determine a life cycle cost and a present value. Major costs that are saved by using solar power for water demand is fuel, fuel delivery, maintenance and in general having a much more efficient and reliable water supply.

See here a video from the World Bank on the benefits of Solar Water Pumping!