Researchers of the ETS of Engineering of Roads, Channels and Ports of the University of Granada have designed, at the request of the Irrigation Community of the Loma de las Vacas de Castril (Granada), a unique irrigation system in the world based on solar energy, which has allowed them to completely abandon dependence on the supply of the commercial electrical network and completely disconnect from it.

In order to achieve savings in current pumping costs, mainly from those derived from electricity consumption, the Community contacted the ETS of Engineering of Roads, Channels and Ports of the UGR.

The team led by the professor of Department of Mechanics of Structures and Hydraulics of the University of Granada, José Antonio Moreno, It has managed to develop a pumping system with a solar power plant that is capable of generating 235 kW. The system combines hydraulic and electrical design, to achieve up to 20% more efficient pumping than conventional solar pumps.

The irrigation network also presents a pumping with the same design premises, achieving a final elevation of pumping located at 270 meters, so that irrigation is carried out on demand at 210 meters, which will imply significant water savings and, together with the use of renewable energy, they make it a unique irrigation system with this type of alternative energy.

“The community saw the need to explore alternative energy routes, since the costs with conventional electricity supply made the continuity of the agricultural activity on which 25 families in Castril depended unfeasible,” says Moreno.

The Community of irrigators it had an administrative concession to use water with an average supply of 11 liters per second, from the treatment plant in the town of Castril. The irrigation system consisted of two pumping stations that raised the water to a raft of 24,000 cubic meters, after exceeding a height of 210 meters, and with an energy consumption of around 50,000 euros per year. “In short, the irrigable area on which 25 families depend is located in a mountain area with a very high elevation,” says the professor at the UGR.

According to Professor Moreno himself, “the main problem we have encountered is the great height to be overcome, 210 meters of fall, so the pressure is important. Until now, with solar energy there has been no system to pump this flow at this height, making it a unique pumping system in the world today. Developing this prototype has been an engineering challenge for the University ”.

The start-up of the new pumping station has met the needs of farmers, who see it as the ideal closure for the water cycle and also in an entirely ecological way, by using purified wastewater and solar energy. Given the very particular characteristics of the system, it has already been visited by professors from universities in developing countries, such as Benim, Algeria or Nigeria, to be interested in him.

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