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Design and Performance Analysis of a

Directly-Coupled Solar Photovoltaic Irrigation

Pump System at Gaibandha, Bangladesh
S. M. Shamim Reza Md. Nazmul Islam Sarkar
International Training Network Centre Institute of Energy
Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology University of Dhaka
Dhaka, Bangladesh Dhaka, Bangladesh
Email: Email:

AbstractDue to climate change and high price of fossil

fuel, demand of electricity for irrigation need is increasing.
Harnessing solar power to meet this increasing demand can be
a good solution. In this paper, we have shown the design and
performance analysis of a directly coupled solar photovoltaic
(PV) motor-pump system operating at Gaibandha, Bangladesh.
Three 1kW DC series motor coupled with pumps were powered
by photovoltaic panels of 2kWp. The motor pumps were directly
connected without any converter. All of the components of the
system were available and bought from the local market. With
average insolation, the system can lift 1,20,000 to 1,72,000 lit/day.
We have calculated the efficiency of the motor-pumps at different
Fig. 1. Circuit diagram of a directly coupled solar photovoltaic water pump.
time of the day. Finally, we have calculated the simple payback
period of the system. We found the system to be viable technically
and economically.
KeywordsSolar irrigation; Green farming; Photovoltaic fantastic initial assessments and analysis by the researchers we
pumping; Solar for agriculture formatting; Green energy. have implemented the idea of solar irrigation in real practice.
I. I NTRODUCTION A. Circuit diagram of photovoltaic solar pump
In this work, we have designed and studied an off-grid
Application of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy for water
directly coupled solar PV powered water pumping system
pumping gained popularity recent years because of drastic
situated at Gaibandha, Bangladesh. We have used DC series
decrease of PV panels price. Also direct coupling of PV
motor in this design. Koner [3] has given a circuit diagram
panels with the pump system has shown great potential with
of a directly coupled series DC pump-motor system which is
low cost for water pumping applications. Direct coupling of
illustrated in fig.1.
mechanical load with PV array requires a systematic study of
load which might be cumbersome but eventually leads to a B. Motor-Pump characteristics
very simple and reliable design [1]. Usually, the output of the The Koner [3] has given the following formula to calculate
PV array is time-dependent and also non-linear in nature which the working water head of the pump:
directly varies with solar insolation level and cell temperature
[2]. The proper matching of components is greatly essential h = K1 (wp )2 K2 (w0 wp )2 (1)
in a direct coupling Pump-motor system.
M. A. Hossain, M. S. Hassan, and M. A. Mottalib [11]
h: working water head, (m), wp : pumping speed (rads1 )
have done a feasibility study on solar irrigation in Bangladesh
K1 : voltage dependent water head constant, m(rads1 )2
in which they have shown solar irrigation as profitable and
K2 : flow rate dependent water head constant, m(rads1 )2
environment friendly. S. I. Khan, M. M. R. Sarkar, and M.
w0 : the speed of motor-pump system at no-flow condition,
Q. Islam [12] of Bangladesh University of Engineering &
(rads1 )
Technology have done a design and analysis of a low cost solar
Braunstein and Kornfield [4] have given the relation of water
water pump for irrigation in rural Bangladesh. The prospect of
discharge to water head of the pump as:
hybrid solar irrigation system in Bangladesh was also studied
by M. A. Hasnat, M. N. Hasan, and N. Hoque [13]. After these Q = K3 (h0 h)1/2 = K3 K20.5 (w0 wp ) (2)

978-1-5090-0169-9/15/$31.00 2015
Q: flow rate of a pump (ls1 ),
h0 : water head of a pump at no-flow condition, (m),
K3 : flow speed constant, (ls1 m0.5 )
The speed-torque relationship is given as:
T p = K4 (wp )2 (3)
T p : pump torque, (N m), K4 : flow-water head constant of a
pump, (ls1 m1/2 )
Hsiao and Blevins [5] deduced the equations for DC series
motor as follows:
V m = M I m w m + I m Rt (4)
T m = M (I m )2 (5)
M = M0 (wm /(w0m )) (6)
V m : motor terminal voltage, (V ), Fig. 2. Monthly averaged daily solar radiation with superimposed clearness
index of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
M0 : motor constant, (N mA2 )
I m : armature current of a motor, (A)
wm : motor shaft speed, (rads1 ) S UMMARY OF E XPERIMENTAL S ETUP
Rt : Field coil and armature resistances of motor, ()
Finally, the efficiency of the motor pump is given by Kolhe, Parameter Value
Joshi, and Kothari [2] as: No. of Pumps 3
gQH Pump rated power 1 kW
mp = (7) Pump motor type DC series motor
VI Total Power of Solar Panel 2 kWp (2000 Wp)
System Voltage 48 60 V (DC)
and the overall efficiency as: Type of Panel Mono Crystalline
No. of Cells per panel 72
= e mp (8) Bore hole / Housing Dia Shallow, 6 inch pipe, 120 feet depth
Static water level Max. 30 feet
where, Suction Pipe size 1.5 inch, 2 inch & 3 inch
e : PV array efficiency, Q: flow rate, (m3 s1 ) Delivery Pipe 1.5 inch, 2 inch & 3 inch
H: head of water, (m), g: constant of gravity (9.81ms2 ) Total Water Lifting 1,20,000lit-1,72,000 lit/ day
: density of water, (kgm3 )
C. Solar Radiation and PV feasibility of Bangladesh or during hours of darkness at night. The summary of the
The effectiveness of solar irrigation pump largely depends experimental setup is given in Table 1.
on the solar insolation availability. As a tropical country The three motors will start to work at minimum 24V. From
Bangladesh receives sufficient amount of solar radiation to 7am-12 pm, at the starting of the day with low insolation at
run irrigation pumps. The 22 years (1983-2005) average of least one motor with small boring will start to run. From 12pm-
solar radiation data of Dhaka, Bangladesh along with clearness 3pm, at the middle of the day two motors can run equally. With
index is shown in fig. 2 [6]. the availability of sufficient insolation 3 motors can operate
simultaneously. The excess water can then be stored in the
III. E XPERIMENTAL S ETUP storage tank for later use. The schematic diagram of the design
There are three PV arrays, 3 DC series pump-motors and a is shown in fig 3.
control panel. Each unit of solar array contains four panels The motors are adjusted to a boring system. The lifting
of 12V each and capacity of total array is 2 kWp. Three three pipes are connected to 6 bore well system. The length
pipes are connected to the 6 main bore well which has a of bore is 120 ft. and the static water level is 20 to 30 feet.
depth of 120 feet and the static water level is 20 to 25 feet. The diagram of irrigation pump boring sizes are shown in fig.
The project was carried out at Gaibandha, Bangladesh. This 4.
design was committed to contribute to sustainable agriculture
development, where the use of fossil fuels can be reduced IV. I RRIGATION WATER R EQUIREMENT
by using solar energy systems. There was also a storage tank Changes in irrigation demand has grown very rapidly due
to enable us to preserve and use the irrigation water during to the increasing demand of the food requirement. Boro rice is
periods when the sun radiation is not received sufficiently the main crop product during dry season when water is very
(a) Solar panels at Gaibandha (b) Pumps at operation
Fig. 5. Operation of solar irrigation pump at Gaibandha, Bangladesh


Motor 1 Motor 2 Motor 3

Time Voltage, (V) Current, I (A) Voltage, (V) Current, I (A) Voltage, (V) Current, I (A)
9:00 24.0 14.8 33.8 16.0 31.6 14.0
9:15 22.8 13.0 35.8 20.3 31.6 15.0
9:30 24.4 14.3 31.8 16.9 33.1 15.1
9:45 21.9 13.4 31.8 15.2 33.0 14.2
10:00 24.2 15.0 32.8 18.4 34.1 16.2
10:30 24.3 13.2 24.0 15.3 27.5 12.9
11:00 24.5 15.5 26.0 14.9 28.3 14.1
11:15 23.8 13.1 26.3 14.6 29.3 13.8
12:00 20.7 12.3 26.9 15.3 30.6 15.9
12:15 25.3 14.8 28.6 13.5
1:00 25.9 12.7 29.0 11.7
1:30 25.8 16.2 29.2 15.1
2:00 25.2 16.1 28.6 14.5
2:30 24.3 14.1 27.8 13.3
3:00 18.7 10.6 22.8 10.5
3:15 24.7 13.8 30.3 14.4
3:30 14.6 8.4 19.2 12.2
3:45 27.0 13.4
4:00 19.4 8.8

scarce due to scanty rainfall. Let us find the water requirement V. M OTOR - PUMP P ERFORMANCE A NALYSIS
of Boro rice per hectare area of land. The formula to find
The performance of the PV powered motor-pump system
required water for irrigation [10] is given as follows:
is studied. Data for rpm and flow rate is taken at 15 minutes
Required W ater V olume = (Required water height) interval. Table 2 shows the rpm and flow rates of three motor-
(Area) (N o. of irrigation) pumps. Pump 1 has a smaller bore hole than other two pumps.
So with lower amount of insolation at the morning or at
The required average water height for Boro rice is 8.5 cm the evening pump 1 can operate. The other two pumps start
and area of the land is assumed to be 1 hectare (10000 m2 ) operating when there is sufficient amount of insolation usually
and approximate number of irrigation required is 25 times [7]. at mid day. When pump 2 and pump 3 starts operating at
So, we can now calculate the water requirement per hectare rated load then pump 1 is switched off. So actually at a time
as: maximum 2 kW rated load are operating and thus 2 kWp solar
panel is sufficient for operation.
T otal W ater required f or one hectare of Boro irrigation =The voltage and current curves of the three motor-pumps
(8.5/100)m 10000m2 25 = 21250m3 /h are shown in fig. 6 and the power curves are shown in fig.
7. We can see that at the morning from 9:00 to 10:00 am
As the total time required for Boro production is 75 days the pumps have maximum power as the insolation is high at
[7] and as 1m3 = 1000l: that time. But interestingly, from fig. 8 we can see that all
T otal average water required per day per hectare = the pumps flow rate remain approximately constant without
(21250m3 /h 1000l)/75days = 2, 83, 333l/h/day. drastic change with the change in insolation. This indicates
We can see that our pumps can irrigate approximately half that the system is stable and will operate properly even there
hectare land each day. is minor fluctuation in solar radiation level.

Name of the Equipment / Setup Unit Price (USD) Quantity Cost (USD)
Solar Panel total 2 kWp 1 / Wp 2000 2,000
Motor - 1000 W 125 3 375
Pump 62.5 3 187.5
Boring Well - - 1,250
Panel Structure - - 500
Electrical Wiring and Misc. Cost - - 625
Installation charge - - 125
Total in USD = 5,062.5
(1 USD = 80 BDT approx.) Total in BDT = 4,05,000

Fig. 4. Irrigation pump boring sizes.

Fig. 3. Schematic diagram of solar irrigation pump C OST OF I RRIGATION PER H ECTARE OF D IFFERENT A REA

Place Cost per hectare (BDT) Cost (USD)

The efficiency of the three motor-pumps are calculated using Netrokona 18,500 231.25
Gopalgonj 21,800 272.50
equation (7) and shown in fig. 9. It was seen that motor-pump Sherpur 18,700 233.75
3 has the maximum efficiency among the three pumps. Moulovi Bazar 20,500 256.25
Habigonj 19,700 246.25
While performing the experiment it was also found that Average 19,840 248.00
with a fixed rpm of the motor, the discharge will remain
the same but rpm of the motor do not remain same due to
mechanical loss due to friction and electrical loss. So, even
the rpm is increased but correspondingly discharge did not
increase due to above reason. During low insolation in the important. Also there is a high fraction of excess electricity
morning only motor -1 was operating due to the smaller size of produced in non-irrigation seasons. This excess electricity can
the discharge pipe but when insolation increased, both motor-2 be supplied to drive other farming load like weed cutter, crop
& 3 could operate simultaneously. In this study it is observed harvester etc. The excess electricity can also be supplied to
that operators judgment to extract maximum yield, is very nearby village to power solar home systems (SHS).

Season Type Amount of irrigated land Cash Inflow (BDT) Cash Inflow (USD)
Mid January - Late April (Boro Season) 1/2 hectare 19,840/2 = 9,920 124
April - June (Supplementary irrigation for any crop) 1/4 hectare 19,840/4 = 4,960 62
July - August (Rainy season) No irrigation required - -
September - November (Supplementary irrigation for any crop) 1/4 hectare 19,840/4 = 4,960 62
November - March (Wheat & Mustard irrigation) 1/2 hectare 19,840/2 = 9,920 124
Total - 1 21 hectare 29,760 372

Fig. 8. Hourly pump flow rate.

Fig. 6. Voltage and Current curves of three motor-pumps.

Fig. 9. Efficiency of the Motor-pumps.

Fig. 7. Power curves for three motors

To calculate simple payback period we need to know the
VI. C OST OF PV I RRIGATION P UMP S YSTEM cost of irrigation per area of land to calculate yearly cash
inflow of the project. The irrigation cost per hectare of
different areas of Bangladesh is given in Table 4 [9].
IDCOL (Infrastructure Development Company) Bangladesh From the above Table 4, we have calculated average cost
and donor agencies give 40% of total cost as grant to encour- of irrigation per hectare of land. In Table 5, we have shown
age solar irrigation [8]. So, setting up a solar irrigation system the yearly total amount of irrigated land by the project and
would cost less than the costing shown here for this project. total cash inflow of the project. Now we have calculated the
Table 3 shows the related cost for the set up in BDT and the payback period as follows:
total amount is 4, 05,000 BDT.
Simple payback period =
(Initial Investement)/(Y early Cash inf low) =
(4, 05, 000(BDT ))/(29, 760(BDT /year)) = 13.6years
It is worth mentioning here that the solar panels usually have
a lifetime of 30 years and the pumps can operate 20 years
with little maintenance easily. So the project has a positive
cash flow in its lifetime.
The performance of the motor-pump system is illustrated in
fig. 6-9 and we have also calculated the simple payback period
which is only 13.6 years without any grant from government
or donor agency. So project is lucrative in technical point
of view as well as in economical point of view. Excees
electricity produced during non-irrigating seasons can be used
in Solar Home Systems or to drive other farming load. Also
the advantage of the solar power is that it is non-polluting.
The GHG emission of diesel is very high. The emission can
be reduced by implementing solar powered pump as it emits
no GHG. So the environmental benefit is also very high.
We would like to express our gratitude to Institute of
Energy, University of Dhaka and Bangladesh University of
Engineering and Technology for aiding with technical support.
We would also like to thank anonymous reviewers who helped
us to improve the quality of the paper.
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