Solar pumps: market potential

The non-profit Power for All campaign believes solar water pumps have the potential to offer farmers in Africa and countries elsewhere struggling with off-grid access to water some easy wins in the form of a reliable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly water source for irrigation; greater access to sanitary drinking and cooking water; less time and effort spent collecting water; and increased energy access and reduced energy poverty.

In 2020, the global solar water pump market was worth $2.38bn. It is predicted to reach $5.64bn by 2028, says Power for All.

During a recent webinar hosted by the organisation, farmers sharing their experiences of solar water pumps were enthusiastic about the technology. They suggested, however, that it has little chance of becoming more mainstream without better information campaigns.

“My crops are now very fine and I have no problems,” said Nelson Kikungwe, a farmer from Uganda, during the webinar. Since installing his pump and being able to irrigate his crops, Kikungwe has seen “much improvement” in his production. In addition to using the pump to spray his crops, he also uses it to “pump water for my community and my family”. He only came across the system by accident, however, when “searching on Facebook”.

Edonia Consolate farms in Arua, a city north-west of the Ugandan capital Kampala. She tells a similar story. In 2022, she opted to purchase a solar water pump to increase production by irrigating the tomatoes she grows in her greenhouse to sell to her neighbours, Arua’s main market, hotels and small markets in nearby trading centres, she told Energy Monitor. Consolate also teaches agriculture in a local secondary school.