Solar for Clean Water

Clean water is essential for life. The importance of a clean drop of water can be realised on a trip to a village in Rajasthan or a town in sub-saharan Africa. On the other hand, water is taken for granted in most of the developed countries whereas in a developing country, finding access to safe drinking water can be a great hassle.

Author Ajay Pal Singh Chabba -, 10.07.13

Clean water is essential for life. The importance of a clean drop of water can be realised on a trip to a village in Rajasthan or a town in sub-saharan Africa. On the other hand, water is taken for granted in most of the developed countries whereas in a developing country, finding access to safe drinking water can be a great hassle. Take a look at how solar energy is addressing this issue. 

The availability of clean water has been of a great concern in India for decades. The country’s high population growth is putting a severe strain on natural resources. India has made progress in the supply of safe water to its people, but a gross disparity in coverage still exists across the country. Although access to safe drinking water has improved, the World Bank estimates that 21 percent of communicable diseases in India are linked to unsafe water.

Technical developments in the field have improved conditions to a large extent. The advent of solar-powered pumps has made a huge impact on the agricultural sector. Solar-powered pumps have the potential to eliminate dependency on diesel-powered pump sets which are utilised for irrigation purposes. 

Solar energy-powered pumps enable villagers to draw water from wells without having to manually operate them. Solar-operated submersible pumps can help a farmer draw between 5,000 to 20,000 litres every day. The water can be stored in the overhead tank or directly applied to the fields depending on the requirement.

As the overall cost for installing a solar energy-powered pump is comparatively more than a normal hand pump, the government is encouraging the gram panchayats for installations with sufficient support in the form of funding schemes and subsidies from the state and federal governments. Currently most of the states are already providing and also utilising the subsidies being granted Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) for Solar Powered pumping systems.

Solar powered-pumping systems can help improve access to water and subsequently, innovation in solar-powered purification systems has been shown to eradicate communicable diseases arising from unsafe water. Jakson Power recently launched their range of solar powered generators and also have come up with a line of solar water purification products in two variants with a technology transfer agreement with Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) which will be available in two variants: Reverse Osmosis (RO) System and Ultra Filtration (UF) System.

These water purification systems will be solar energy driven and will be able to cater to drinking and cooking water requirements for a family comprising of up to four members. The solar-powered purification systems will be operational for up to 9 hours and can be used in villages which are not connected to a grid or do not have a regular supply of electricity. These systems are designed for rural application and are capable of purifying surface/ well waters which contain filterable contamination making it fit for drinking.

There are no guidelines or funding schemes available from the government to support the installation of solar-powered water purification systems at this stage, but NGOs with private partnerships are actively working to promote and install such systems at the community level.

Author: Uday Pratap Singh, Assistant Manager at Hanwha SolarOne Co. He can be contacted at uday@hanwha.net.in

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Jaltara – An Ecofriendly Water Purification System

In the tribal hamlets of the picturesque Taluka Shahapur located 100 kilometres from Mumbai, an eco-friendly and inexpensive water filtration technology has changed lives in around 200 households. Residents of these unelectrified settlements have access to potable water round-the-clock owing to a domestic purifier developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). The water purifiers do not run on electricity, cause no wastage of water, can be maintained easily, and costs Rs. 900 apiece. The technology, if widely adopted, could do away with the hazards of adding chemicals such as chlorine, or using filtration units that guzzle power or require professional maintenance.