News |
Articles |
Chile | Irrigation

Photovoltaic energy and pressurized irrigation transform agriculture in Chile

A program contemplates the construction of 79 projects for farmers whose surface area varies between 1 and 5 hectares of cultivation, dedicated mainly to horticultural production, avocado trees, citrus fruits and goat breeding.


Berta Sosa, from Cabildo. Energy from the sun feeds an irrigation system for potato crops.

Al Gore, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former US vice president, five years ago recognized Chile as a global example for its expansion in the use of solar energy, with our country being the one that was adopting this energy "faster than any other". Currently, the figure is twice as large.

The Cabildo and Petorca Photovoltaic System and Pressurized Irrigation Transfer Program is one of the initiatives that adds to this projection and seeks to contribute to the water and energy efficiency of small agricultural producers in the communes of Petorca and Cabildo by installing pressurized irrigation systems powered by energy. through photovoltaic systems.

With the presence of the Regional Governor, Rodrigo Mundaca, the launch of this initiative began, which is executed by INIA La Cruz and financed by the Regional Government of Valparaíso. “The provinces of Petorca and Cabildo are an example of this solar potential and a boost to the use of renewable energy. It is a project that places care of the environment at the center, but also places small producers at the center,” said the governor.

The National Deputy Director of Research and Development of the INIA, Christian Alfaro, assured that this initiative goes hand in hand with our mandate to bring applied science closer to the solution of problems in a context of water scarcity. Here, he specified, “we can observe how science is at the service of solving problems by connecting photovoltaic panels that are capable of supplying energy to a pump that supplies water to small producers.” He highlighted as a central axis in the research strategy, “the best use of water resources, but also the reduction of the water footprint and indirectly the chemical footprint due to the emission of greenhouse gases.”

The project director. Dr. Carlos Zúñiga, in the presence of national and regional authorities and hundreds of farmers, gave a presentation to report on the progress of the program, giving voice to its protagonists and sharing successful experiences of the beneficiaries.

Cabildo and Petorca are areas with high solar radiation, which allows photovoltaic systems to generate enough energy for the irrigation system in fruit production, mainly avocado, citrus and horticultural production. “The valleys of Petorca and Cabildo are one of the areas with the greatest number of hours of sunshine per year, which also coincides mostly with the times of greatest need for irrigation,” says the specialist in irrigation and precision agriculture.

The north orientation of the panels helps them be directly exposed to solar radiation for most of the day, optimizing their efficiency in converting sunlight into electricity. Furthermore, avoiding shading ensures that they can operate at their maximum capacity and performance.

The use of non-conventional renewable energies such as solar energy, for the extraction and distribution of surface water, is especially attractive in the backward areas of Petorca and Cabildo.

The program considers the construction of 79 projects for beneficiary farmers whose surface area varies between 1 and 5 hectares of cultivation. Of the 79 projects, 39 correspond to the construction of a pressurized irrigation system plus the installation of photovoltaic equipment for its energy supply. Meanwhile, the other 40 productive units correspond to photovoltaic equipment coupled to an existing pressurized irrigation system.

For the most part, producers have a source of water to develop a small-scale crop. But, some do not have an electrical connection or do not have enough installed power to operate an electric pump for water extraction.

Some are located far from the electrical distribution network, so they are not able to cover the high financial expense involved in the operation of electric pumps for irrigation, added to the high energy requirement. For this reason, farmers in these areas opt for irrigation systems that have low water efficiency. “In these communes, water resources are scarce and producers make efforts to obtain water from deep wells, buy water for irrigation or store it in infrastructure intended for that purpose,” says project director Dr. Carlos Zúñiga.

The project is in full development, with 17 operational pressurized irrigation systems, powered by solar energy where the work of companies specializing in photovoltaic panels is to install the panels in order to optimize the irrigation system through the incorporation of technology for accumulation, extraction and irrigation, as well as the use of photovoltaic energy to extract water.

The water needs of each property were evaluated based on the availability of water, the state of its storage dams and the depth of its wells in order to find the best solution. For this reason, each farmer receives different management of the system, seeking the best technical-productive conditions for the use of the infrastructure.

Once the installation is completed, the transfer of skills for the efficient use of this equipment to small producers will be carried out, accompanied by training sessions.
The implementation of this system will lead to a significant reduction in farmers' water consumption, estimated at around 20%. Furthermore, in the case of exclusively photovoltaic systems, the reduction in energy consumption could be 100%.

The implementation of this system will lead to a significant reduction in farmers' water consumption, estimated at around 20%. Furthermore, in the case of exclusively photovoltaic systems, the reduction in energy consumption could be 100%.

Berta Soza, from the Las Puertas sector, is one of the beneficiaries and it is the place where the presentation of the project took place: “we are happy with this project because it is going to help us a lot financially. It will be less polluting for the fruit, vegetables or whatever is going to be planted. With clean, sustainable energies, which is wonderful because it is what is being imposed today in terms of plantations in agriculture, having clean, renewable energies, and that has less environmental pollution. May it help all of us who are working in the field financially.”

Enjoyed this news? Please share it!

More news from Chile
Fruit, Citrus news
Sign up to our newsletter
    Sign up    

» News
» Articles
» Vídeo
HomeContactPrivacyTerms & conditionsNewsletterAdvertiseWork for us

© Copyright Infoagro Systems, S.L.