Suitability, sizing, economics, environmental impacts and limitations of solar photovoltaic water pumping system for groundwater irrigation—a brief review


Irrigation is an essential part of agriculture which helps to sustain crop growth and increase food productivity. Most of the nations around the globe have adopted diesel fuel-based pumping units to irrigate their farm lands. However, increased fuel cost and strict emission laws have made these nations to look for alternate and clean energy powered pumping units. Solar water pumping units are more promising alternate to address these concerns. In this review work, types and concepts of available solar thermal and electric energy-based water pumping units are discussed. Suitability of solar PV pumping units in comparison to thermal energy-based units has been listed out. Detailed procedure for sizing solar PV pumping units by considering crop water requirement, head of pump, and local climatic conditions like solar radiation intensity and rainfall have been provided based on inputs from available literatures. In addition, step by step procedure to estimate economics and environmental impacts associated with solar PV water pumping units along with results of latest studies in these areas have also been presented. Solar PV water pumping units are highly recommended for regions with at least 300 to 400 mm rainfall per year and 2 km away from local grid power supply. Moreover, operation of solar PV water pumping units in on-grid mode can reduce its payback period significantly. Pumping cost associated with diesel units are 300.0% higher than solar PV units. Hence, solar PV water pumping units can be considered as an effective and sustainable option to irrigate farmlands. Advantages, limitations of solar PV water pumping, and strategies to improve its acceptability among farmers have also been provided.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14

Data availability

No data is available.


A G :

Area of vegetation (m2)

A p :

Area of p type element (m2)

A n :

Area of n type element (m2)

B l :

Battery losses (%)


Battery capacity (Ah)


Benefit-cost ratio

C :

Total initial cost of the project (USD)

C PV :

Cost of PV panels (USD)

C Aux :

Cost of auxiliary equipments (USD)

C cwc :

Cost associated with civil work (USD)

C ener :

Annual energy savings or income (USD/year)

C capa :

Annual income (USD/Year)

C RE :

Annual renewable energy production credit income (USD/year)


Annual GHG reduction income (USD/Year)

C O&M :

Annual operation and maintenance cost (USD/year)

C fuel :

Annual cost of fuel (USD/year)

d s :

Soil depth (m)

D c :

Discharge of charge percentage (%)

ET o :

Reference evapotranspiration (m/d)

ET c :

Evapotranspiration under standard cultural conditions (m/d)


Effective rainfall (m/month)

Eprop :

Proposed case annual electricity produced

e s :

Saturation vapor pressure (kPa)

e a :

Daily average actual vapor pressure (kPa)

e base :

Base case GHG emission factor

e prop :

Proposed case GHG emission factor

e cr :

GHG emission reduction credit transaction fee

e CO2 :

Emission factor of CO2

e CH4 :

Emission factor of CH4

e N20 :

Emission factor of N2O


Finance payback time (year)

f :

Inflation rate (%)

f d :

Debt ratio

f PV :

Derating factor of PV panel (%)


Acceleration due to gravity (m/s2)


Soil heat flux density (MJ/m2 day)

GT :

Actual solar irradiance (W/m2)

GS :

Standard solar irradiance (W/m2)


GHG emission reduction cost (USD)


Global warming potential of CO2


Global warming potential of CH4


Global warming potential of N2O


Total head of pump (m)

Had :

Annual operating hours (h)


Thermoelectric current (A)


Interest rate (%)


Incentives and grants (USD)

K c :

Cultural coefficient

Ln :

Contact length of n type thermoelectric material (m)

Lp :

Contact length of p type thermoelectric material (m)


Levelized cost of energy (USD/kWh)


Leaching requirement


Life time (year)

m CO2 :

Annual mass of CO2 produced (kg/year)

MW CO2 :

Molecular weight of carbon-di-oxide (kg/kmol)

MW C :

Molecular weight of carbon (kg/kmol)

N ad :

Number of days of autonomy (days)

N m :

Number of PV modules

N h :

Number of hours of battery usage/day (h)

N TE :

Number of thermoelectric couples

P module :

PV power output per module (W)

P m :

Power required by motor (W)


Potential application efficiency

P H :

Required pumping power (Kw)

P pv :

Required power output from PV array (W)


Present value of total cost (USD)


Power output of thermoelectric module (W)

Q :

Volumetric flow of water (m3/h)

r :

Discount rate (%)

R n :

Daily net radiation at crop surface (MJ/m2 day)

R tot :

Total rainfall (mm/month)

R tot :

Total rainfall (mm/month)


Resistance of thermoelectric module (Ohm)


Salvage value(USD)

T a :

Ambient temperature (°C)

T c :

Actual PV module temperature (°C)

T c,ref :

Reference temperature (°C)

TC :

Cold surface temperature (K)

T H :

Hot surface temperature (K)

U 2 :

Average monthly daily wind speed (m/s)

V D :

Volume of water demand per day (m3/day)

V b :

Voltage of battery (V)

V hour :

Amount of fuel consumed by engine per hour (L/h)

w c :

Mass fraction of carbon in fuel

Z :

Figure of merit of thermoelectric material (1/K)

(ZT)pn :

Non dimensional figure of merit of thermoelectric couple


Slope of vapor pressure curve (kPa/°C)


Annual GHG emission reduction


Psychometric constant (0.66 kPa/°C)


Density of water (kg/m3); Electric resistivity of thermoelectric material (Ohm m)

ρ fuel :

Density of fuel (kg/L)

ρ n :

Electric resistivity of n type thermoelectric material (Ohm m)

ρ p :

Electric resistivity of p type thermoelectric material (Ohm m)

ρ s :

Soil density (kg/m3)

ε s :

Coefficient of soil water content (%)

λ prop :

Fraction of electricity lost in transmission and distribution in proposed case

λ :

Fraction of electricity lost in transmission and distribution

λ s :

Thermal conductivity of thermoelectric material (W/mK)

λ n :

Thermal conductivity of n type thermoelectric material (W/mK)

λ p :

Thermal conductivity of p type thermoelectric material (W/mK)

η m :

Efficiency of motor (%)

η max :

Maximum efficiency of thermoelectric module (%)

η PV :

Efficiency of PV panel (%)


Temperature coefficient of power

α s :

Seebeck coefficient (V/K)


  1. Abioye EA, Abidin MSZ, Mahmud MSA, Buyamin S, Ishak MHI, Muhammad Rahman KIA, Otuoze AO, Onotu P, Ramli MSA (2020) A review on monitoring and advanced control strategies for precision irrigation. Comput Electron Agric 173:105441. Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Agrawal S, Jain A (2019) Sustainable deployment of solar irrigation pumps: Key determinants and strategies. WIREs Energy Environ 8(2):e325.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Ali B (2018) Comparative assessment of the feasibility for solar irrigation pumps in Sudan. Renew Sust Energ Rev 81(1):413–420 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Aliyu M, Hassan G, Said SA, Siddiqui MU, Alawami AT, Elamin IM (2018) A review of solar-powered water pumping systems. Renew Sust Energ Rev 87:61–76 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Armanuos AM, Negm A, El Tahan AHMH (2016) Life cycle assessment of diesel fuel and solar pumps in operation stage for rice cultivation in Tanta, Nile Delta, Egypt. Procedia Technol 22:478–485 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bataineh KM (2016) Optimization analysis of solar thermal water pump. Renew Sust Energ Rev 55:603–613 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bellos E, Tzivanidis C (2020) Energy and financial analysis of a solar driven thermoelectric generator. J Clean Prod 264:121534 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Bjorneberg DL (2013) Irrigation methods. Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences. Elsevier (ISBN 9780124095489). Accessed 15 Sept 2020

  9. Bouzidi B (2013) New sizing method of PV water pumping systems. Sustain Energy Technol Assess 4:1–10 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Google Scholar 

  10. Campana PE, Li H, Yan J (2013) Dynamic modelling of a PV pumping system with special consideration on water demand. Appl Energy 112:635–645 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Champier D (2017) Thermoelectric generators: a review of applications. Energy Convers Manag 140:167–181 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Chandel SS, Naik MN, Chandel R (2015) Review of solar photovoltaic water pumping system technology for irrigation and community drinking water supplies. Renew Sust Energ Rev 49:1084–1099 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Chilundo RJ, Maúre GA, Mahanjane US (2019) Dynamic mathematical model design of photovoltaic water pumping systems for horticultural crops irrigation: a guide to electrical energy potential assessment for increase access to electrical energy. J Clean Prod 238:117878 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Closas A, Rap E (2017) Solar-based groundwater pumping for irrigation: sustainability, policies, and limitations. Energy Policy 104:33–37 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Cuadros F, Lopez-Rodrıguez F, Marcos A, Coello J (2004) A procedure to size solar-powered irrigation (photoirrigation) schemes. Sol Energy 76(4):465–473 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Das D, Gopal RM (2004) Studies on a metal hydride based solar water pump. Int J Hydrog Energy 29(1):103–112 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Date A, Akbarzadeh A (2013) Theoretical study of a new thermodynamic power cycle for thermal water pumping application and its prospects when coupled to a solar pond. Appl Therm Eng 58(1-2):511–521 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Gao ZY, Liu J (2016) Application of photovoltaic pumping technology for growing paddy rice in China. Irrig Drain 65(1):3–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Gao X, Liu J, Zhang J, Yan J, Bao S, Xu H, Qin T (2013) Feasibility evaluation of solar photovoltaic pumping irrigation system based on analysis of dynamic variation of groundwater table. Appl Energy 105:182–193 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Gao HB, Huang GH, Li HJ, Qu ZG, Zhang YJ (2016) Development of stove-powered thermoelectric generators: a review. Appl Therm Eng 96:297–310 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Gao ZY, Zhang Y, Gao L, Li R (2018) Progress on solar photovoltaic pumping irrigation technology. Irrig Drain 67(1):89–96.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. García AM, García IF, Poyato EC, Barrios PM, Díaz JAR (2018) Coupling irrigation scheduling with solar energy production in a smart irrigation management system. J Clean Prod 175:670–682 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. García AM, Gallagher J, McNabola A, Poyato EC, Barrios PM, Díaz JAR (2019) Comparing the economical and environmental impacts of on or off grid solar photovoltaics with traditional energy sources for rural irrigation systems. Renew Energy 140:895–904 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Ghasemi-Mobtaker H, Mostashari-Rad F, Saber Z, Chau K-w, NabaviPelesaraei A (2020) Application of photovoltaic system to modify energy use, environmental damages and cumulative exergy demand of two irrigation systems-A case study: Barley production of Iran. Renew Energy 160:1316–1334 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Hamami L, Nassereddine B (2020) Application of wireless sensor networks in the fild of irrigation: A review. Comput Electron Agric 179:105782 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Hammad B, Al-Sardeah A, Al-Abed M, Nijmeh S, Al-Ghandoor A (2017) Performance and economic comparison of fixed and tracking photovoltaic systems in Jordan. Renew Sust Energ Rev 80:827–839 Accessed 15 Sept 2020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Islam MR, Sarker PC, Ghosh SK (2017) Prospect and advancement of solar irrigation in Bangladesh: A review. Renew Sust Energ Rev 77:406–422

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Jaziri N, Boughamoura A, Müller J, Mezghani B, Tounsi F, Ismail M (2019) A comprehensive review of thermoelectric generators: technologies and common applications. Energy Reports. (In press). Accessed 15 Sept 2020

  29. Jokar H, Tavakolpour-Saleh AR (2015) A novel solar-powered active low temperature differential Stirling pump. Renew Energy 81:319–337.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Kabalci Y, Kabalci E, Canbaz R, Calpbinici A (2016) Design and implementation of a solar plant and irrigation system with remote monitoring and remote control infrastructures. Sol Energy 139:506–517 (

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Karthick K, Suresh S, Hussaina MMMD, Ali HM, Kumar CSS (2019) Evaluation of solar thermal system configurations for thermoelectric generator applications: A critical review. Sol Energy 188:111–142 (

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Kelley LC, Gilbertson E, Sheikh A, Eppinger SD, Dubowsky S (2010) On the feasibility of solar-powered irrigation. Renew Sust Energ Rev 14:2669–2682

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Khatib T, Saleh A, Eid S, Salah M (2019) Rehabilitation of Mauritanian oasis using an optimal photovoltaic based irrigation system. Energy Convers Manag 199:111984

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Kumar A, Kandpal TC (2007) Renewable energy technologies for irrigation water pumping in India: A preliminary attempt towards potential estimation. Energy 32(5):861–870

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Kumar M, Reddy KS, Adake RV, Rao CVKN (2015) Solar powered micro-irrigation system for small holders of dryland agriculture in India. Agric Water Manag 158:112–119

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Lorenzo C, Almeida RH, Martínez-Núñez M, Narvarte L, Carrasco LM (2018) Economic assessment of large power photovoltaic irrigation systems in the Ecowas region. Energy 155:992–1003

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Lv S, Liu M, He W, Li X, Gong W, Shen S (2020) Study of thermal insulation materials influence on the performance of thermoelectric generators by creating a significant effective temperature difference. Energy Convers Manag 207:112516

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Matlin RW, Katzman MT (1979) Assessing solar photovoltaic energy systems for crop irrigation. J Am Water Resour Assoc 15(5):1308–1317

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Narvarte L, Almeida IRH, Carrêlo B, Rodríguez L, Carrasco LM, Martinez-Moreno F (2019) On the number of PV modules in series for large-power irrigation systems. Energy Convers Manag 186:516–525

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Niajalili M, Mayeli P, Naghashzadegan M, Poshtiri AH (2017) Techno-economic feasibility of off-grid solar irrigation for a rice paddy in Guilan province in Iran: A case study. Sol Energy 150:546–557

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Nikzad A, Chahartaghi M, Ahmadi MH (2019) Technical, economic, and environmental modeling of solar water pump for irrigation in Mazandaran province in Iran: A case study. J Clean Prod 239:118007

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Omer G, Yavuz AH, Ahiska R, Calisal KE (2020) Smart thermoelectric waste heat generator: design, simulation and cost analysis. Sustain Energy Technol Assess 37:100623

    Google Scholar 

  43. Osma-Pinto G, Ordóñez-Plata G (2019) Measuring the effect of forced irrigation on the front surface of PV panels for warm tropical conditions. Energy Rep 5:501–514

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Pardo, M.A., Manzano, J., Valdes-Abellan, J., Cobacho, R., 2019. Standalone direct pumping photovoltaic system or energy storage in batteries for supplying irrigation networks. Cost analysis. Science of the Total Environment 673:821 –830. (

  45. Parida B, Iniyan S, Goic R (2011) A review of solar photovoltaic technologies. Renew Sust Energ Rev 15:1625–1636 (

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Pourkiaei SM, Ahmadi MH, Sadeghzadeh M, Moosavi S, Pourfayaz F, Chen L, Yazdi MAP, Kumar R (2019) Thermoelectric cooler and thermoelectric generator devices: a review of present and potential applications, modeling and materials. Energy 186:115849 (

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. PV-Magazine 2020 (Last accessed on 19th December 2020).

  48. Rai RK, Singh VP, Upadhyay A (2017) Planning and evaluation of irrigation projects methods and implementation. PP. 353 – 363. Academic Press. Accessed 15 Sept 2020

  49. Rezk H, Abdelkareem MA, Ghenai C (2019) Performance evaluation and optimal design of stand-alone solar PV-battery system for irrigation in isolated regions: a case study in Al Minya (Egypt). Sustain Energy Technol Assess 36:100556 (

    Google Scholar 

  50. Rizi AP, Ashrafzadeh A, Ramezani A (2019) A financial comparative study of solar and regular irrigation pumps: case studies in eastern and southern Iran. Renew Energy 138:1096–1103 (

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Roblin S (2016) Solar-powered irrigation: a solution to water management in agriculture? Renew Energy Focus 17(5):205–206 (

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Rubio-Aliaga Á, Sánchez-Lozano JM, García-Cascales MS, Benhamou M, Molina-García A (2016) GIS based solar resource analysis for irrigation purposes: rural areas comparison underground scarcity conditions. Sol Energy Mater Sol Cells 156:128–139 (

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Rubio-Aliaga A, García-Cascales MS, Sanchez-Lozano JM, Molina-García A (2019) Multidimensional analysis of groundwater for irrigation purposes: economic, energy and environmental characterization for PV power plant integration. Renew Energy 138:174–186

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Sarkar A (2020) Groundwater irrigation and farm power policies in Punjab and West Bengal: Challenges and opportunities. Energy Policy 140:111437 (

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Sarkar MNI, Ghosh HR (2017) Techno-economic analysis and challenges of solar powered pumps dissemination in Bangladesh. Sustain Energy Technol Assess 20:33–46 (

    Google Scholar 

  56. Senol R (2012) An analysis of solar energy and irrigation in Turkey. Energy Policy 47:478–486 (

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Sharma R, Sharma S, Tiwari S (2020) Design optimization of solar PV water pumping system. Mater Today: Proc 21(3):1673–1679 (

    Google Scholar 

  58. Shittu S, Li G, Zhao X, Ma X (2020) Review of thermoelectric geometry and structure optimization for performance enhancement. Appl Energy 268:115075 (

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Siddique ARM, Mahmud S, Heyst BV (2017) A review of the state of the science on wearable thermoelectric power generators (TEGs) and their existing challenges. Renew Sust Energ Rev 73:730–744 (

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Siecker J, Kusakana K, Numbi BP (2017) A review of solar photovoltaic systems cooling technologies. Renew Sust Energ Rev 79:192–203 (

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Sinke WC (2019) Development of photovoltaic technologies for global impact. Renew Energy 138:911–914 (

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Todde G, Murgia L, Deligios PA, Hogan R, Carrelo I, Moreira M, Pazzona A, Ledda L, Narvarte L (2019) Energy and environmental performances of hybrid photovoltaic irrigation systems in Mediterranean intensive and super-intensive olive orchards. Sci Total Environ 651(2):2514–2523.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Vohra K, Franklin ML (2020) Reforms in the irrigation sector of India. Irrig Drain.

  64. Wazed SM, Hughes BR, O’Connor D, Calautit JK (2018) A review of sustainable solar irrigation systems for Sub-Saharan Africa. Renew Sust Energ Rev 81:1206–1225 (

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Xu, He, Liu J, Qin D, Gao X, Yan J (2013) Feasibility analysis of solar irrigation system for pastures conservation in a demonstration area in Inner Mongolia. Appl Energy 112:697–702 (

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Yadav K, Kumar A, Sastry OS, Wandhare R (2019) Solar photovoltaics pumps operating head selection for the optimum efficiency. Renew Energy 134:169–177 (

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Yavuz AH (2020) Solar thermoelectric generator assisted irrigation water pump: Design, simulation and economic analysis. Sustain Energy Technol Assess 41:100786 (

    Google Scholar 

  68. Yu Y, Liu J, Wang H, Liu M (2011) Assess the potential of solar irrigation systems for sustaining pasture lands in arid regions—a case study in Northwestern China. Appl Energy 88(9):3176–3182 (

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Yu Y, Liu J, Wang Y, Xiang C, Zhou J (2018) Practicality of using solar energy for cassava irrigation in the Guangxi Autonomous Region, China. Appl Energy 230:31–41 (

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work receive no funding.

Author information




Conceptualization: Sharon Hilarydoss. Methodology: Sharon Hilarydoss. Formal analysis and investigation: Sharon Hilarydoss. Writing—manuscript preparation, reviewing and editing: Sharon Hilarydoss.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sharon Hilarydoss.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares that she has no competing interests.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hilarydoss, S. Suitability, sizing, economics, environmental impacts and limitations of solar photovoltaic water pumping system for groundwater irrigation—a brief review. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2021).

Download citation


  • Solar energy
  • Groundwater pumping
  • Economics
  • Environmental impact
  • Irrigation
  • Agriculture