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Strategy for Efficient Energy Management to solve energy problems in modernized irrigation: analysis of the Spanish case

Abstract

While the modernization of irrigation techniques in recent years has improved water use efficiency, the substitution of open channels by pressurized pipes led to a substantial increase in the energy used in irrigated agriculture. Given the concern for energy savings and sustainability, official administrations have promoted several initiatives to improve energy efficiency in irrigated agriculture, and researchers have developed different tools for the same. Although energy audits have been conducted in irrigation networks managed by Water Users’ Associations, the implementation of energy conservation measures proposed in these audits has not been always successful. This paper, which reviews the energy aspects of irrigation systems modernized in recent decades in Spain and in other countries, considers the characteristics and special features of Water Users’ Associations and proposes an energy management system (EMS) for the same. The stages of the EMS are described, beginning with the definition of energy policy and the establishment, implementation and verification of energy plans, the essential conditions to guarantee the success of the EMS are described, in which energy audits are just a part of a process of continual improvement of energy efficiency. A Strategy for Efficient Energy Management has been implemented in a Water Users’ Association in southeast Spain. The improvement measures proposed in the first energy plan were implemented, and an increase from 60 to 65 % in average energy efficiency was achieved.

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Abbreviations

WUA:

Water Users’ Association

SEEM:

Strategy for Efficient Energy Management

EMS:

Energy Management System

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation for funding the TRACE project “Sostenibilidad en el uso del agua y energía en el regadío” (“Sustainability in energy and water use in irrigation”), reference PET2008_0175_02.

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Correspondence to C. Rocamora.

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Communicated by J. Kijne.

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Rocamora, C., Vera, J. & Abadía, R. Strategy for Efficient Energy Management to solve energy problems in modernized irrigation: analysis of the Spanish case. Irrig Sci 31, 1139–1158 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00271-012-0394-5

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Keywords

  • Energy Efficiency
  • Irrigation System
  • Energy Manager
  • Life Cycle Cost
  • Improve Energy Efficiency