ABB India has developed a solar-powered water pump for irrigating crops with rural India facing problems in the supply of electricity and availability of diesel for operating gensets.

"ABB solar pump drive starts automatically when there is enough sunshine and the motor connected to it begins to run the pump to draw water.

"At sunset, the drive turns off the motor and the water flow ceases," Vinod Raina, senior Vice President (Transformers division) at ABB India, said.

He added that the built-in maximum power point tracking functionality enables the pump to run at maximum power using the available solar energy.

Raina said that switching from use of conventional energy or diesel gensets to solar power can free up as much as 18 per cent of the electricity that can be used for other purposes.

As much as 18 per cent of the total electrical energy generated goes into agriculture. There are nine million diesel pump-sets in India.

"Even if 50 per cent of these are converted to solar powered pumps, it will save 25 billion litres of diesel per year," Raina urged while claiming that the implementation of the solar pump can improve agricultural productivity to at least two crops a year in most parts of the country.

"Due to the uncertain power supply, pumps are kept switched on waiting for electricity and, often unattended, lead to water being drawn out and wasted," he explained.

Raina said that with the government having set a target of deploying 1,00,000 solar pumpsets over the next five years, states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat are key adopters followed closely by Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

He elaborated the company was working on developing an application that will allow farmers to monitor and operate these solar pumps through their mobile phones.

"This technology is already in use in Rajasthan where the state government is using it in Public Health Engineering department, but we will have to develop our own application for these pumps," Raina added.

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