Solar Irrigation Potential, Key Issues and Challenges in Pakistan

Fiaz Hussain, Seung Jin Maeng, Muhammad Jehanzeb Masud Cheema, Muhammad Naveed Anjum, Arslan Afzal, Muhammad Azam, Ray Shyan Wu, Rana Shahzad Noor, Muhammad Umair, Tahir Iqbal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Pakistan faces water scarcity and high operational costs for traditional irrigation systems, hindering agricultural productivity. Solar-powered irrigation systems (SPIS) can potentially provide a sustainable and affordable solution, but face technical, financial and policy barriers to adoption. A comprehensive study is needed to examine feasibility and identify barriers. Therefore, a comprehensive review study is conducted to identify the potential for solar irrigation, key issues and challenges related to its implementation in Pakistan. The analysis is based on published studies, technical reports and a survey of solar-powered drip irrigation systems. The use of SPIS in Pakistan is becoming a cost-effective and sustainable option for irrigation, particularly in remote and off-grid areas. However, these systems also have their challenges, such as high initial costs, maintenance and repairs, limited access to spare parts, lack of government policies and regulations, lack of technical expertise, lack of financing options and social acceptance. The most pressing issue is the risk of groundwater exploitation by using SPIS. Based on the analysis of the energy and water situation in Pakistan, it is important to sustainably use both solar energy and groundwater resources, through the implementation of effective management strategies and policies. With the right policies and investment in research and development of SPIS and groundwater, farmers can benefit by increasing crop yields, conserving water resources, reducing the cost of energy, increasing productivity and improving the standard of living and access to electricity in remote and off-grid areas. It is recommended that the adoption of solar energy be promoted to run high efficiency irrigation systems (HEIS) with urgent capacity improvement among farmers, advisors and system installers to sustainably manage water resources in SPIS. This would not only help to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and associated environmental impacts, but also increase farmers’ income and reduce their operational costs. Moreover, the use of SPIS can improve crop yields, leading to food security and poverty reduction. Thus, the government and policymakers should consider implementing policies and incentives to encourage the large-scale adoption of solar energy in the agricultural sector.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1727
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Volume15
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2023

Keywords

  • HEIS
  • Pakistan
  • groundwater extraction
  • solar energy
  • solar irrigation
  • tube wells

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