ICIMOD introduces low-cost solar water pumping technology

29 May 2014, Kathmandu, Nepal


ICIMOD installed an award-winning solar water pumping system on its office premises at Khumaltar, Lalitpur today. The technology will be promoted for wider adoption based on the results of its performance testing. The equipment includes a 1HP (or 750 watts) solar pump with 12 solar panels and a 2HP pump with 24 panels. Unlike conventional solar pumps that cost over five lakh Nepali rupees, the cost of the 1HP pump and 12 panels installed by ICIMOD is only one lakh and sixty thousand Nepali rupees. These solar panels can be moved from one place to another on a movable trolley, while the submersible pump is easily available in the market. The system is suitable for drawing water from rivers, ponds and wells that are up to 50 feet deep.

The solar pump was designed by Atom Solar, a company based in Pune, India and won the best design prize at a competition organized by Green Peace in 2013. Vivek Mundkur of Atom Solar said that he held extensive consultations with small-holder farmers and gained a solid understanding of their needs before designing the pump. There are many small-holder farmers in Nepal’s Tarai region who can potentially benefit from this cost-effective technology. Dr David Molden, Director General of ICIMOD, expressed hope that these pumps will also serve mountain communities who often suffer from acute water shortage because their habitations lie above river valleys.

Dr Lars-Erik Liljelund, Chairperson Programme Advisory Committee and Vice Chairperson ICIMOD Board of Governors inaugurates the solar water pump installation at the ICIMOD premises
Photo: Narendra Bajracharya, ICIMOD

The solar pump installation was carried out under ICIMOD’s Koshi Basin Programme (KBP) - Phase I. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Government of Australia supported the initiative as part of its Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio for South Asia. KBP focuses on managing the Koshi basin in a regionally coordinated manner so as to improve the well-being of local communities and promote sustainable use of ecosystem goods and services. Current activities of the programme are geared towards reducing poverty in the Koshi basin with special attention to social inclusion. With the introduction of an innovative and affordable solar pumping system, ICIMOD has moved closer to this goal. 

Solar panel and water pump in action!

Narendra Bajracharya, ICIMOD

With an average daily sunshine of seven hours throughout the year, Nepal has a high potential for generating solar power. A report by Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) suggests that the potential for commercial solar power for grid connection is around 2100MW, while the potential for off-grid production is much higher. However, the high cost of solar power generation, in particular the costs of panels and battery, has discouraged rural population from taking advantage of this technology. Obtaining water for drinking, irrigation and domestic use remains a daily battle for many communities in the middle hills and the Tarai region of Nepal. In this context the user-friendly and cost-effective solar pumping system introduced by ICIMOD brings new possibilities for farmers. It is hoped that these pumps will reach farmers across Nepal, and help them tackle water shortage and address their irrigation needs in a cost-effective manner.

For more information please contact: 

Ms Nira Gurung
Senior Communications Officer, ICIMOD
Tel +977-1-5003222 Fax +977-1-5003277
Email: info@icimod.orgNira.Gurung@icimod.org