SPIS Design

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Module Aim and Orientation

This module provides information and tools for agricultural service providers on how to estimate the dimensions, type and financial viability of Solar Powered Irrigation Systems for a specific farming situation. An SPIS consists of multiple components that work under constantly varying daily and seasonal conditions. read more

The design of an SPIS lays the foundation for the system’s technical, financial and environmental viability. In particular with regard to financial implications and the risk of unsustainable water abstraction, the decision requires thorough consideration. Therefore, this module is also highly relevant for financial service providers. This module should enable the advisor to judge whether the installation of an SPIS would be more suitable and viable than using alternative irrigation systems. The tools are described and referred to in the different process steps of this module. Important design parameters can be estimated with simplified formulas to gain insights into understanding a more detailed design. Given the complex interactions between the different components under different environments, the tools of this module do not replace a detailed technical design created by professionals in solar and irrigation technology.

In the GET INFORMED mmodule the individual components of an SPIS, as well as common system configurations are described. For each component there are several alternative technologies that also react differently when designed in a particular configuration. Once the most suitable configurations of an SPIS are determined, methods for its promotion are described in the PROMOTE & INITIATE module. The design should consider the natural limitations of the environment to ensure a sustainable use of water and other resources, as described in the SAFEGUARD WATER module. The module, FINANCE, gives an insight into financing SPIS components and configurations in different ways. Yet, the costs and financial viability are a key element of the design and therefore treated in the DESIGN module. The next modules, SET UP and MAINTAIN, are closely linked to this module as they describe important issues that need to be considered when installing and maintaining the selected design.

Process Steps

Before designing an SPIS, it is important to assess the opportunities and threats of an SPIS in a particular area. The institutional setting and environmental aspects, as described in the PROMOTE & INITIATE and the SAFEGUARD WATER modules, are important framework conditions. read more

In addition, local, up-to-date information on markets for input and output (crop sales) and other information are key to deciding whether designing an SPIS for a particular location makes sense at all. Once it is confirmed that an SPIS is the preferred option, it is crucial that design adheres to the intended use. Once the crop water requirements, solar radiation and system pressure have been established, the technical design can then be prepared. The technical planner can choose from a number of methods of varying complexity and accuracy to come up with a final design. Before deciding on a particular contract provider, the cost quotation from the system integrator should be thoroughly assessed.


1. Collect data
2. Analyze agricultural production options
3. Determine water requirement and availability
4. Select SPIS configuration
5. Estimate system size and costs
6. Assess financial viability
7. Pre-select potential suppliers
8. Evaluate quotations and assesses quality
9. Contract supplier