New solar plant to power irrigation in Saudi Arabia

SolarPanels IFCInfrastructure FLICKRFirst Solar has a projected installed capacity of at least 270MW across the Middle East region by 2017. (Image Source: IFC Infrastructure/Flickr)First Solar and Al Watania Agriculture Company have announced completion of a pilot project to evaluate the use of solar electricity for sustainable power irrigation at a large farm in Saudi Arabia

The 684 kW photovoltaic (PV) plant powers groundwater extraction and distribution operations at a 25,688 sqm site on the not-for-profit Al Watania Organic farm located in the Al Jouf region.

The farm, which covers a total of 319.21 sq km, is claimed to be the Kingdom’s largest producer of organic products and currently uses conventional fuel to pump water from 150 borewells.

The solar power plant effectively replaces a diesel generator, which would ordinarily consume 628,000 litres of diesel per year, if run continuously, said a press release from First Solar.

Al-Watania CEO Ibrahim Aboabat said, “The new project will not only help reduce our carbon footprint but will also allow us to explore the potential for solar to reliably support our energy needs.”

The installed PV generators are expected to pump over 3.1mn cu/m of water per year, unaided by conventional generators.

First Solar vice-president of business in Middle East Dr. Raed Bkayrat commended the initiative stressing the importance of harnessing sunlight, the region’s most abundant energy resource.

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