The recent dramatic increases in the price of oil have hit almost everyone. Gas and diesel are vastly more expensive, and that in turn causes the price of electricity to rise as well. With oil being a finite, non-renewable resource, increased use of renewable forms of energy such as wind, geothermal, hydro and solar is once again a hot topic. I say "once again" because we were there in the 1970s but didn't learn our lesson. As soon as oil prices came down, so did our resolve to use and pursue more sustainable energy sources. No one argues the benefits of solar power, but putting it to use generally required complicated connections to the utility grid. That's becoming more common, but there's another way to use solar that makes a whole lot of sense, and that is solar water pumping.
Let's think about this for a moment. The huge advantage of solar power is that it is free and inexhaustible. The disadvantage is that it's only available when the sun shines. Theoretically you could use solar power to charge giant batteries so that electric energy would be available whenever you need it, but that is not practical. But how about putting solar to use in areas where it doesn't matter when the work gets done, just that it does get done? Pumping water is one such area. Once water is pumped from one place to another, it's available for use. It generally doesn't matter when it is pumped.
Solar water pumping is becoming quite interesting to farmers who are facing increasing costs running diesel pumps to provide livestock with water as well as water for irrigation. On top of the cost savings from not having to run diesel pumps or extend the grid, bringing water to cattle instead of bringing cattle to the water offers substantial watershed and riparian zone management benefits (cleaner water, reduced erosion, etc.). And portable solar water pumps facilitate rotational grazing and temporary pasture.
Solar force is also an attractive option to bring water to remote homes, cabins or campgrounds. It even makes sense to employ solar drip irrigation and pumping for gardens and homes. The technology to do all that has been around for decades. It's mature and efficient, and there are a number of government programs and utility incentives to use it. There is an initial investment, of course, but given the increasingly unpredictable cost of non-renewable energy that's no longer the obstacle it once was. And the more expensive energy gets, the quicker solar water pumps pay for themselves.
A number of well established and highly reputable companies like Grundfos SQF, SunCentric, Solaram and Solar Force offer a variety of pumps (submersible, surface, solar slowpump, etc.), pump controllers and, of course, solar panels. A complete solar pumping system requires meticulous planning, proper sizing and expert installation, but the resulting benefits are well worth it.
The bad news is that our current problems with oil will likely not go away. The good news is that we have a number of alternatives, and solar energy is one of them. Solar water pumping makes a lot of sense and it is fairly easy to implement.
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Chris Robertson is an author of Majon International, one of the worlds MOST popular internet marketing companies.
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