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A reliable and clean water supply is an essential need but a large number of people currently lack this basic provision. There are two main types of solar water pump technologies: a) the centrifugal pump, which uses high speed rotation to suck water in through the middle of the pump. PV water pumping has become a widely adopted solar energy technology in the last two decades (Firatoglu & Yesilata, 2004).
Solar PV systems, once manufactured, are closed systems; during operation and electricity production they require no inputs such as fuels, nor generate any outputs such as solids, liquids, or gases (apart from electricity).
When solar water pumps replace either diesel generated electricity or grid based electricity, there are certain climate related benefits.
Several aspects of a PV pump system are key in determining the system costs: a) size of the system. Your use of this website constitutes acknowledgement and acceptance of our Terms & Conditions.
A system with 1800 watt PV array capacity and  2 HP pump can give a water discharge of 1.4 lake liters per day from a depth of 6 to 7 meters. Institute of Irrigation and Development Studies, School of Civil Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom. The use of solar energy for water supply systems is not a new concept, but a design solution that has had little experience in a developing world context.
Evidently there is more work that needs to be done on ensuring the sustainability of projects of this type; photovoltaic water pumping can be a viable solution to a community’s needs, but the requirements of the technology must be understood and fulfilled.
Approximately half of the world’s population live in rural areas of developing countries (Omer, 2001) where poverty is often most severe. Solar-powered water pumping systems have been in existence for many years and have been installed in many countries throughout the world, yet development in the field has been slow.
This paper looks at the current situation in the field of solar-powered water pumping and discusses the outcome of a study carried out between July and September 2003 of three such projects implemented by the humanitarian aid organisation Action Against Hunger. A community located beneath a mountain spring or stream may be able to obtain its water supply from a gravity-flow distribution system, the solution which is most sought after as it requires no additional energy supply and so often relatively cheap to operate and maintain.
Communities close to the electricity grid, with a water table at an acceptable depth, may use an electric pump to supply water. Solar technology solves the problem of providing energy to remote rural areas where the electricity grid does not reach. Routine maintenance costs of PVP systems are very small – the PV panels require little or no maintenance and the controller simply needs to be maintained well-sealed to avoid dust, water and insects (SNL, 2001).
Other routine maintenance required is similar for almost all other water systems: cleaning of the reservoir, cleaning of private water tanks, releasing of excess air in pipes, etc. Previous research on the sustainability of PVP systems is limited, but certain affirmations exist and were taken into account when designing the study and analysing its results. The choice of solar power as the design solution for a particular community must only be made after other solutions have been evaluated and eliminated (Enersol, 2002) – it is the water that is required, not the power source (Short et al, 2002b). Enersol Associates (2002) state that communities selected for PVP projects should be at least 1 km from the electricity grid, as nearer than this it is usually cheaper to extend the electricity grid and buy a transformer. The existence of a system for water management, including fee collection, is a condition for a PVP project (Kaunmuang et al, 2001), the development of which is a challenge for both project workers and community leaders (Verani, 2000). The social and institutional interaction necessary for a PVP system may be more important for the success of a project than technological factors (Omer, 2001).
A local management committee is required to decide how to share out water equitably, to handle finances and to manage routine maintenance (Omer, 2001). The involvement of local private businesses in a PVP project helps towards sustainability (Verani, 2000) and post-sale and post-installation support is a requirement for such systems (Ley, 2003). The solar technology involved in PVP systems is advanced and includes complex electronic systems that cannot be repaired at village level.
A study in Thailand of almost 500 PVP systems found that 32% of breakdowns were due to pump motor failures and 19% by inverter failures (all systems used AC pumps).
Security is an important issue in solar systems because solar panels are valuable items and can too easily be stolen. The 3 projects studied were located in the department of Choluteca in the south of Honduras. The projects studied were located in the communities of El Fortin, El Naranjal and Los Achiotes.
Each community had a Water Committee (WC) formed as part of the project, to administer the running of the water system. The sustainability of a rural water system is dependent on a large number of factors and hence is a complex issue.
The results of the study are analysed by the various aspects of the sustainability of the water projects.
The Water Committees were not holding regular meetings, yet these are essential to enable communication with the community and discuss problems. The Plumber tended to be the most active person with respect to the water system and was seen as a member of the Water Committee (WC), rather than an employee. Due to the absence of a contract or fixed contact for technical assistance, communities experienced longs delays while trying to arrange repairs after breakdowns in the system.
The effective running of the water system is dependent on the participation of both the WC and the community. One of the risks that the communities did not experience problems with was that of theft and vandalism. Social exclusion occurred in the communities with respect to the poorest people and newcomers to the village.
The values of the water tariffs in the communities studied (40-45 lps) were substantial for poor people who would earn only 50 lps (US $3) a day when they could find work. Lack of payments and lack of accountability severely jeopardised the projects’ sustainability, as any fault in the system would prove critical without the economic resources to repair it. All three systems had weaknesses which meant that the villagers’ water requirements could not be fully met.
Two of the systems had had several problems with their equipment since it had been installed, mainly with the pumps. Water was chlorinated using a ‘hypochlorinator’, a device which constantly drips a chlorine solution into the reservoir when applied. PVP projects need a fully functioning and effective community management system to ensure sustainability.
In administrating PVP systems, it is accountability and communication that are most important. It should be made clear that both the Service Fee Collector and the Plumber are employees of the WC and not part of it. The availability of technical assistance is a critical factor in the sustainability of solar projects. There is a limited amount of maintenance work that can be carried out by the community itself, such as dismantling the pump to clean it and remove blockages, or doing simple performance tests.
Two crucial and interdependent factors in the implement-ation of projects of this type are the suitability of the project for the community and the community’s acceptance of it. The criteria for the distance from the electricity grid should not only be defined in terms of the cost of extending the grid to the community, but must consider 10-15 years into the future whereby the electricity grid may have expanded anyway. Careful calculations of projected finances must be made, considering the costs of running the system, the cost of a maintenance contract (if possible) and the savings needed to replace equipment when guarantees run out.
The high capital costs of solar equipment mean that a PVP system will almost always be designed to provide a limited amount of water per person per day. Water meters connected at the outlet of each beneficiary allow the users to be charged according to the amount of water they use. Even with water meters, there will almost always be a time when the system does not fulfil the needs of the users – if the sun does not shine for several days, the reservoir will dry up unless it is very large. A method of disinfecting water that is more reliable and effective than the hypochlorinator is needed. During the implementation of a project, the training given to a community should serve to ensure the project’s sustainability.
However, training only at the beginning of the project is evidently not sufficient, as people forget what they have learnt or committee members change and knowledge is not passed on to new members. If more than one organisation is involved in a project, the roles of each organisation must be clearly defined so that the community knows what to expect from each one and who to contact if necessary. LORENTZ PS200 helical rotor pumps are high quality products designed for higher fow drinking water supply, livestock watering, pond management and irrigation applications. All pumps provide large volumes of water economically, without pollution, anywhere.
The LORENTZ PS range of DC powered pumps have been designed specifcally to pump larger volumes of water effciently using solar power.
Visited 1176 times , 2 Visits todayA solar-powered pump is a pump running on electricity generated by photovoltaic panels or the thermal energy available from collected sunlight as opposed to grid electricity or diesel run water pumps. The operation of solar powered pumps is more economical mainly due to the lower operation and maintenance costs and has less environmental impact than pumps powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE).
Finally, if an alternating current solar pump is used, an inverter is necessary that changes the direct current from the solar panels into alternating current for the pump. LORENTZ PS helical rotor pumps are high quality products designed for drinking water supply, livestock watering and smaller irrigation applications.
LORENTZ PS centrifugal pumps are high quality products designed for higher flow drinking water supply, livestock watering, and pond management and irrigation applications. LORENTZ PS Swimming Pool Pumps are high quality products designed for use in residential and commercial swimming pools and SPAs. The LORENTZ pump uses a DC brushless motor for high efficiency and reliability; it is connected to a solar generator via a controller.
LORENTZ PS1200 centrifugal and helical rotor pumps are high quality products designed for higher fow drinking water supply, livestock watering, pond management and irrigation applications. All pumps provide large volumes of water economically, without pollution, anywhere.
Commonly, such places relie on human or animal power or on diesel engines for their water supply (Omer, 2001). Ten thousand PV water pump systems were installed worldwide up to the year 1993 (Barlow et al., 1993).
They are silent and vibration free and can broadly be considered, particularly when installed on brownfield sites, as environmentally benign during operation. A diesel generator emits CO2 during operation and grid based electricity is usually generated with either coal, oil or natural gas which also emits considerable quantities of CO2.

The high initial capital costs of the PV array is the major barrier to high penetration rates of the use of solar water pumps (Firatogly & Yesilata, 2004).
Solar water pumps are designed to pump water for agricultural irrigation, drinking water and livestock water  supply in areas where electricity is unavailable or unreliable.
It is completely  powered by solar energy and does not require storage batteries, therefore being a very cost-effective system.
Parts Solar PV panel One of the following motor-pump sets compatible with the photo voltaic array: surface mounted centrifugal pump set, submersible pump set, floating pump set, Submersible pump set, Any other type of motor-pump set, after approval from MNRE Pipes.
The photo voltaic array converts the solar energy into electricity, which is used for running the motor pump set. This quantity of water is considered adequate for irrigating about 5-8 acres of land holding for several crops. This article explores the outcome of a study of 3 such projects carried out in southern Honduras, Central America, in 2000 and 2001.
For communities away from the electricity grid, solar power has the potential to solve many problems by providing clean, renewable and reliable energy.
In 1978, the World Bank set a target to install 10 million photovoltaic pumping (PVP) systems by the year 2000 (Barlow et al, 1993); however, by 1998 only 60 000 units were estimated to have been sold (Short et al, 2002a). Similarly, in areas with high rainfall, an energy-free system can be used to harvest rainwater. Provided that there is adequate insolation, solar panels can be used to pump groundwater to a reservoir which feeds domestic outlets. If the pump motor is AC, this must include a transformer to convert the DC signal from the panels to AC.
System efficiency is generally low (40-50%) because the energy goes through several different stages from its solar input to the water output (Short et al, 2002b).
If PVP is applied where alternatives are not considered, it may result in an unsustainable solution and a waste of money (ibid.).
They also state that it is economically feasible for communities of up to 200 families (~1000 people) whereas Munger (2000) advocates from 300 to 2000 people. Local tradition, personnel, requirements and skills must be understood so that villagers can be involved in the planning and constr-uction of the system, with the aid of outside professional support (ibid.).
This committee should be made up of democratically elected individuals committed to voluntary community service, whereas routine functions should be performed by separate individuals who are paid for their service (Johnson, 2003). In Mauritania, 5-year maint-enance contracts with a private Mauritanian company comprised of a full guarantee for solar installation facilities including repairs and a yearly visit to the system for between US$ 260 and US$ 900 per year (Munger, 2000). The solar array is the most reliable component of the system and may have a guarantee of up to 25 years. Failures of pump motors were related to sediment build-up which could have been rectified by the villagers. Table 2 presents some characteristics of the climate in Choluteca (Clarke et al, 1998 and Smith, 1993).
It can be split up into different aspects, all interlinked: administrative (or institutional), social, environmental, economical (or financial) and technical (Abrams, 2000).
The committee members were generally unclear on their duties and the existence of dual roles and relatives within a committee no doubt negatively affected the group’s efficiency. He could run the system as he liked, which may not necessarily have been the best way for the beneficiaries.
There was a lack of interest in the water system and a severe lack of communication; villagers knew little about the manage-ment of the system but could identify a string of problems in the focus groups, some of which they had no basis for.
Despite the inconvenience of spending a whole day every few weeks guarding the system, the beneficiaries of El Fortin and Los Achiotes did not complain and seemed to appreciate the value of their equipment. Some elderly people and single mothers were excluded from the projects owing to their inability to pay the monthly tariff or contribute to the construction of the system, and newcomers were not invited to connect to it. However, the economic problems encountered were largely linked with administrative and social issues rather than solely with the value of the tariff. The existence of a communal bank account proved to aid accountability considerably, giving the Treasurer the duty to deposit money and the ability to withdraw funds only with the signature of another member of the committee. Water was rationed by the Plumber by filling the reservoir and then distributing the water to sectors of the communities for certain durations. Technical assistance was expensive (and possibly overcharged) and the communities had to wait long periods in which the handpumps proved indispensable. As the water entering the tank varies according to the sunshine, it is not chlorinated consistently.
Water Committees should be set up before the PVP project and given duties such as promoting hygiene, saving water or dealing with wastewater. Training is needed for both the WC and the community on the importance of meetings and the requirements of committee members. The Plumber must report to the WC and not be allowed to manipulate the system as he or she likes. Taking into account that target populations of solar projects are usually situated in places with limited access and communications and that PVP systems are much rarer than other types of water system, the best way to ensure the technical assistance required is to implement a program of various projects and establish maintenance contracts with a private company, as with the projects in Mauritania (see 3.3). The characteristics of the community itself, rather than just the technical aspects of the design, are very important and will determine the sustainability of the project. It can then be determined if a community is eligible or not, according to its size and the monthly tariff it is willing and able to pay.
Providing for all the beneficiaries’ wishes (watering the garden, bathing animals, washing the patio, etc) is simply too expensive. Tariffs can be set so that a certain ration per month has a fixed, low price, but anything above this limit is charged at a higher rate.
To avoid the cost of a large reservoir, a PVP system can be complemented with rainwater harvesting.
Chlorinating water at a household level may prove better as each beneficiary would be responsible for disinfecting his or her own water, removing the dependency on the Plumber. It is a very simple practice and can kill 99.9% of microorganisms if the water is heated to 50-60°C for one hour (EAWAG, 2002). Training is needed in many areas and should be carried out in a way that actively involves the community. Project sustainability will be considerably increased by follow-up assessment and training from institutions at intervals (e.g.
New software for Crop Water requirements and Irrigation Scheduling, J Int Commission Irrigation and Drainage Vol 47 No 2. These highly effcient pump systems consists of a water pump, a pump motor and a controller.
Direct current motors are used for small to medium applications up to about 3 kW rating, and are suitable for applications such as garden fountains, landscaping, drinking water for livestock, or small irrigation projects.
The supported power range of inverters extends from 0.15 to 55 kW and can be used for larger irrigation systems.
PS centrifugal pumps provide large volumes of water economically, without pollution, anywhere. In most pool applications all of the filtration needs can be met directly from solar panels meaning no electricity costs and significant benefits to the environment. The controller monitors the system, controls the pump speed and optimizes the amount of water pumped based on the power available.
Especially if the need for water is in remote locations which are beyond the reach of power lines, solar power is often the economically preferred technology. The main environmental impacts of solar cells are related to their production and decommissioning. Owing to the high initial capital costs of solar panels and their control devices, solar energy systems are usually used for communal purposes in development. It is estimated that millions of water pumps are still needed in areas far from the electric grid (Posorski, 1996).
Where the climatic conditions are not appropriate, biomass or diesel pumps can be used, as long as there is an adequate fuel supply – if not, hand pumps may be the only option. Compared to the use of a diesel-powered pump, the initial capital cost of a solar-powered system is high (in Honduras, typically around $40 000 (Verani, 2000)) but the running and maintenance costs are low (there is no fuel to pay for).
The reservoir is used to provide water when there is no sunshine to power the system and should have the capacity to provide 2-5 days’ water consumption, depending on climatic conditions. Centrifugal pumps require little additional maintenance, but positive displace-ment pumps need to have their diaphragms replaced every 2-3 years and their piston seals every 3-5 years. Other prerequisites are that the community should have difficult access to water (far away or poor quality) and have access to a solar technician (Verani, 2000). Verani (2000) suggests that there is a willingness to pay for water service far above conventional notions and existing tariffs, but Posorski (1996) reports that revenues actually collected from tariffs rarely cover operating costs because poor service and lack of response from water authorities deters users from paying. Panel failure is rare – Munger (2000) reports that, over 4 years, there were no panel failures amongst 63 systems studied, but the rate of pump failures was 1.5% per year. The controller failures, however, occurred from lightning shocks, inadequate protection from moisture and over-heating (Kaunmuang et al, 2001).
An alternative is to employ a vigilance system whereby community members take turns in guarding the equipment, as has been adopted in Honduras and the Dominican Republic (Enersol, 2002). The Treasurer was also able to act freely, resulting in serious problems with accountability. In El Naranjal, however, there was no security system in place, yet the equipment had suffered no problems.
With the new water supply, villagers used more water than before and hence the amount of wastewater had also risen.
However, without supervision or meetings to discuss funds, the Treasurer still had the opportunity to manipulate finances. This resulted in a very unequal water distribution; the amount of water a beneficiary received depended on the amount of time the water was distributed to the house, the water pressure at the tap and the capacity for storing water (tanks, barrels or buckets). In Los Achiotes, when visited, the system was not working and reparation had been abandoned by the Water Committee. Nevertheless, the chlorinators were hardly used due to the additional work involved and the cost of chlorine powder. This can be used to assess the motivation and organisation within a community – if proved successful, the PVP project may follow.

With a PVP system, villagers may not understand why they should pay such a high water tariff when the operational costs are so low, so the WC must explain where the money goes and account for it. The community thus pays a fixed regular payment and the responsibility for maintaining and repairing the system lies with the outsiders.
Ideally, a community should have the same standard of living throughout so all households are able to pay the same tariff and income must be regular and stable. In periods with little sun, it is often likely, in tropical areas, that there will be intensive rain (as in Honduras). This method would also be more resourceful, as only the small proportion of water that needs to be disinfected (that used for consumption and personal hygiene) would be treated.
This is also done at a household level, using transparent plastic bottles and avoids the cost of buying chlorine. A select group of people, including, but not limited to, the members of the WC, should be trained by the institution so that they can then relay what they have learnt to other members of the community in further sessions (with the supervision of the institution). Solar Pumping: An Introduction and Update on the Technology, Performance, Costs and Economics. Recommendations and Guidelines for Photovoltaic Powered Community Water Systems Based on Experiences in Honduras and the Dominican Republic. FAO : el potencial de los sistemas de energia solar en las zonas rurales a menudo sigue sin explotar.
80 herramientas para el desarrollo participativo: diagnostico, planificacion, monitoreo, evaluacion. A Measured Step Toward Sustainability For Rural Community Water Supply: One Metering Strategy That Works. This modular concept keeps all electronics above ground providing, simple servicing, ease of access and a low cost of ownership. Since DC systems tend to have overall higher efficiency levels than AC pumps of a similar size, the cost are going to get reduced by using smaller solar panels. However, the panel and inverters must be sized accordingly to accommodate the inrush characteristic of an AC motor. While solar water pumps are much more small scale applications compared to PV technologies such as concentrated solar PV, the rapid expansion of PV technologies in general will benefit the deployment rate of solar water pumps. In regards to pollutants released during manufacturing, IPCC (2010) summarises literature that indicates that solar PV has a very low lifecycle cost of pollution per kilowatt-hour (compared to other technologies). Therefore, it is important to use the smallest system size possible that still meets all the criteria of that particular location. In both cases, this was because the methodology that was chosen was incompatible with the project description. Improving the water supply to a poor community provides a string of benefits and the use of solar energy is often the most economic solution in remote areas with no electricity (FAO, 2000). PVP systems for water supply are generally designed for a lifetime of at least 10 years (Enersol, 2002), if not 15 or 20 (SNL, 2001), over which period the system can become very cost-effective. Batteries can be used instead to continue pumping water without sunshine, but a reservoir is more reliable and much more economical.
Choosing which components to include in the design is a matter of balancing cost, service, efficiency and reliability. Pump motors with brushes must have them replaced after a few years, depending on their use, but this is usually a simple operation. Villagers must agree to conserve water and to pay a monthly flat fee for the service (Verani, 2000). Guarantees for pumps usually last for just 1 or 2 years but most pump failures are normally due to lack of simple maintenance rather than defects in the pump itself. Short et al (2001) report on two more studies, both of which found inverter failures of around 20% and Posorski (1996) declares that the inverter is “the most sensitive system component” after finding similar results in 89 PVP systems. Problems with payment of the tariff were severe in two communities where the Treasurer failed in keeping payments up-to-date and in complying with the rules on cutting off water connections to non-payers.
Some inhabitants of this village did not appreciate their system nor the service it provided and even chose to revert to their old water sources instead of paying for the new system.
If not managed properly, this can cause environmental health problems such as an increase in breeding sites for mosquitoes and hence disease.
This had a lot of knock-on effects on the sustainability of the projects, to the extent that some villagers opted out of the system and reverted to retrieving water themselves. It should be ensured that the community has a means of communication with the company in case of breakdown. Before deciding to use PVP, all other appropriate types of solution must be considered and what a PVP project will offer and what the community will need to contribute must be fully explained in advance. The additional cost of the meters and their installation can be set back against the savings made on other system components (Johnson, 2002) such as fewer solar panels.
If the beneficiaries already have recipients to store water, the only additional capital costs involved are drainpipes to channel water from the roof of each house. This could be achieved by coordinating projects with other organisations concerned with water supply or solar energy, including those concerned with local or national government strategies. Many solar water pumpts use the positive displacement pump, which brings water into a chamber and then forces it out using a piston or helical screw.
Since the main barrier to wide scale deployment of solar water pumps is the high initial capital costs due to the PV array, and the rapid expansion of PV technologies is leading to reduced prices for PV systems, it is expected that the solar water pump technology will reach higher penetration levels. In many developing countries, women are responsible for the water supply, spending a large portion of their time to gather the water.
Furthermore they predict that upwards of 80% of the bulk material in solar panels will be recyclable; recycling of solar panels is already economically viable. Extensive use of solar water pumps would therefore lead to substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Government or aid agency subsidies which cover the high initial capital costs are required in many locations to realize PV water pump systems (Short and Oldach, 2003). There is much talk of the need for ‘matched systems’ but manufactures have not followed this up (ibid.). Posorski claims the controller’s maximum power point tracking is not reliable and Short et al even suggest one option as to do away with the controller altogether in order to increase reliability. People were willing to pay for their water as long as they were happy with the service they received. The Service Fee Collector, as employee of the WC, would be responsible for recording meters every month and calculating fees. Training sessions will be needed to teach the community how to install and how to use their rainwater system.
The use of solar water pumps can have considerable positive effects for women in these communities (Short & Thompson, 2003).
However, certain steps in the production chain of solar PV systems involve the use of toxic materials, e.g.
So that payments are met, the WC should employ a Service Fee Collector to collect the money at monthly meetings and discuss finances with the Treasurer and the community.
Efficiency of the pump is measured in the amount of water pumped per watt of electricity used. In terms of technology, the market share of thin films is expected to grow to 35% by 2013, due to constraints in the availability of high grade silicon. For instance, the adequate water supply improves the personal hygiene of women but also allows them to allocate more of their time to the other activities (Short & Thompson, 2003).
Careful decommissioning and recycling of PV system is especially important for cadmium telluride based thin-film solar cells as non-encapsulated Cadmium telluride is toxic if ingested or if its dust is inhaled, or in general the material is handled improperly. After installation of solar water pumps women in these communities might allocate more time to activities such as education or foodgathering (WaterAid, 2001). In terms of land use, the area required by PV is less than that of traditional fossil fuel cycles and does not involve any disturbance of the ground, fuel transport, or water contamination (IPCC, 2010). The intensity and number of hours of sunshine determine the capacity requirements and thus the PV array size requirements.
While the use of PV technology provides several environmental benefits compared to traditional technologies, care should be taken that the installation of the solar water pump does not increase the use of groundwater so that supplies are depleted. Surface pumps can be placed at the side of a lake or, in the case of a floating pump, on top of the water. Especially in the case where the initial capital costs are covered by a grant or other financial arrangement, the water supplied is more economical to the users compared to the original situation. One approach to reducing this possible problem is to maintain water price for the users on the original level, and invest the extra money into a community development fund. For example, a solar water pump project in Thailand used the community development fund to invest in solar lighting systems.
In Table 1 the option of solar water pumping is compared to several other remote watering options. While system size and insolation levels greatly influence the capital costs of a PV water pump the operational costs of the system are generally very low due to low labor and maintenance costs. A study by the Bureau of Land Management at Battle Mountain, Nevada, USA, showed that certain PV systems cost only 64 % over twenty years compared to a comparable diesel generator system did over ten years (NYSERDA, 2004). Additionally, the PV system required only 14 % of the labor hours that the diesel generator system required. In turn, diesel pumping becomes more economical for larger applications (Odeh, Yohanis, & Norton, 2006).
PV systems are particularly useful in locations to which it is not practical to extend the grid. Even in locations where connection could be made to a grid, utilities have found it more viable to use PV pumps than to extend and maintain the electric grid (Kou et al., 1998).
Comparison in financial requirements between five PV systems and five diesel pump systems of increasing size.

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