News 2011

Sunlabob installs Solar Water Pumps to improve water access at Agriculture College

Between July 2010 to May 2011, Sunlabob installed 4 solar water pump systems, an AC water pump and a water purification system at the Northern Agriculture and Forestry College (NAFC) in Luang Prabang, Laos. The systems were installed to serve different needs of the college, such as the provision of clean water for drinking, water for domestic use, and water for irrigation and farming.

With financial support from the Swiss government, Swiss NGO Helvetas implement SURAFCO, a project to Support the Reform of the Northern Agriculture and Forestry College, aiming - amongst others - to improve the college's infrastructure and provide the necessary facilities for improved water access throughout the campus.

The project commenced with the installation of a Solar Water Purification System. Prior to the installation, water that was supplied to the college contained high levels of calcium and was unsuitable for drinking. The water purification system, with several different filters, is able to treat the water, remove the high levels of calcium and provide clean drinking water for students and staff at the college.

Following that, a PS 600 solar water pump was installed to provide irrigation for the college’s fish and frog farm. Powered by a 680 W solar array, the pump is able to pump 40 m3 of water per day, sufficient for frog stockbreeding. This pumping capacity will soon be increased as two more water tanks will be installed.

In a subsequent installation, Sunlabob installed solar water pumps to provide water for the college’s agriculture activities. A PS 4000 solar water pump, powered by a 4 kW solar array, was installed to provide water for the irrigation of a fruit farm and a PS 1200 pump, powered by a 1.3 kW solar array, was installed to provide water for the college’s livestock. Since the installation, the college has been able to grow more crops and expand its crop yield.

In the final installation, Sunlabob installed 2 more PS 4000 solar water pumps and a water distribution system to supply water for domestic use to students and staff at the college’s dormitory, restaurant and laboratory. Prior to the installation, the college obtained water from a regular water pump that was immersed in a borehole. This pump often had inadequate power, resulting in a shortage of water being pumped. With this solar water pump, 400 people will be supplied with clean drinking water, and this figure will increase to 800 over the next 5 years.

Besides solar water pumps, an AC water pump which is able to pump 300 m3 of water per day was also installed at Pak Xueang River. Drawing water from this natural source, the pump serves two purposes. Firstly, they are used for agricultural activities in which they deliver a constant source of water for the vegetable farm, integrated farms, rice planting and organics farm. Secondly, they are used to supply water for domestic use to the staff’s living area and the students’ farm houses.

Solar water pumps are being used throughout the world for a number of different applications, such as for homesteads, livestock watering, crop irrigation etc. For people living in remote areas, solar water pumps are an excellent alternative as the cost of running power lines or diesel pumping may be too great.

A solar powered water pump differs from a regular water pump only in that it uses the sun's energy to supply electricity for the pump. The solar panels absorb the sun's energy and convert that to electrical energy for the pump to operate.

All the pumped water is stored in a water tank so that there is constant supply even in bad weather conditions where there is insufficient power to generate the solar water pumps.

Many benefits arise from using solar water pumps including ease of operation and running cost savings. By harnessing energy from the sun and using the correct pump for the desired application, one can save a significant amount of time and money.

At NAFC, a college representative recognises four major benefits through the adjusted water supply system:
a) The reduced operational costs for the college,
b) The reliability of the system,
c) NAFC's contribution to environmental friendly operations - one core goal of the GoL and
d) NAFC's capacity building and promotion on technique and use of renewable energy to students and surrounding farmers.

For more information on Sunlabob’s solar water pumps, kindly read this information sheet.