Farmers have always played a significant role in our society as they provide the world’s population with food. However, one may forget that, not only do they provide food but they also provide energy, which nowadays, is of paramount importance, especially as in light of renewable energies. Indeed, farmers can produce energy from the wind, the sun or the biomass and they can use it for their own farm, or, if they have a surplus, resell it to companies.
Solar energy might be one of the easiest ways for farmers to produce energy. Indeed, farmers usually have several large buildings whose roofs are directly under the sun, without being hindered by the shadows of the trees, turning them into an ideal place to settle a photovoltaic system. Therefore, the use of solar energy in agriculture is becoming increasingly popular and the energy produced from this renewable source can be used either on the farm or in the local power grid, providing the farmer with an additional income.
One of the areas in agriculture that benefits the most from solar energy is irrigation, especially in arid regions. The main reason is that using the sun for irrigation represents a virtuous circle: when the sun shines, it feeds the irrigation system, well, we know that crops needs more water when the sun shines a lot. Therefore, a large quantity of energy is available when it is actually needed.
The pumps used for the transport of the water are equipped with solar cells. The solar energy absorbed by the cells is then converted into electrical energy via a generator which then feeds an electric motor driving the pump. Most of the traditional pump systems mainly work with a diesel engine or with the local power grid.
However, these two modes of operations present disadvantages compared to solar pumps.
In many rural areas, especially in developing and emerging countries, the access to the electricity grid is not always guaranteed. In this case, farmers cannot rely on the traditional irrigation system. Thus, using an independent and alternative energy system can be a solution for the farmer to secure a safe power source and for the public grid to avoid saturation.