Policy Paper // Sustainable Solar-Powered Irrigation Systems
Solar-powered irrigation systems have earned a reputation for contributing to multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a single technology. Irrigation improves agricultural productivity and therefore income, food security and nutrition. However, SPIS must be implemented sustainably to reap all of its potential benefits. By considering the interdependencies between achieving water, energy and food security for human well-being, it can benefit from the synergies between these often-competing sectors.
What can be done to foster solar powered irrigation systems, build up markets, train capacities, minimize damages to aquifers and ecosystems, and to profit from benefits? This paper aims to give a first guidance and highlights, among other things, business models, but also financial instruments to lower one of the biggest barriers to entry, the initial costs for the technical setup. From an economic point of view, it also gives important hints on how to strengthen the market for SPIS as a whole. Along the entire value chain from production, installation, operation, maintenance and disposal of SPIS, actors must be trained accordingly to enable efficient and comprehensive use of the technology.
A comprehensive dissemination of SPIS can also harbour risks that should be addressed as early as possible. These include the overuse of water resources, as the low operating costs of solar pumps offer little incentive to save water. Cross-sectoral planning and regulation in line with the water-energy-food security nexus approach should therefore play a central role in the planning and use of SPIS.
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