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Photovoltaics

Photovoltaic (PV) is providing a source of electric current under the influence of light or similar radiation.  PV modules convert light from the sun into electricity.

Pumping Water with the Sun

A new way to water livestock – When ranchers need a reliable water source far from the electric utility line – photovoltaics is often a cost-effective power solution.

Some ranchers have turned to PV-powered pumping systems as a cost-effective, convenient solution.  New grazing techniques for better range management require more frequent rotations of livestock on smaller sections of land and also require livestock to be fenced away from stream beds.  This creates a need for more water sources and a way to deliver it.  Since rangelands are often far from the electric grid, PV is often the best option for livestock water pumping.

PV is also a non-obtrusive power source in environmentally-sensitive areas, such as state and national parks and grasslands.  PV is even being used to pump water for wildlife.

Because electric utilities recognize the benefits of pumping water with PV systems, Northwest Rural Public Power District has a list available of certified PV installers/providers.

Why Pump Water with Photovoltaics?

  • Can operate in remote areas with no power lines or where lines are too expensive to maintain.
  • Are cost competitive with other remote methods of pumping water, such as windmills and engine generators.
  • Require less maintenance than windmills and generators.
  • Produce the most water on sunny, hot days when livestock need it the most.
  • Are easy to install and can be made portable to use at more than one well site.
  • Rely only on the sun for power so there is no fuel to transport and no fumes or exhaust emitted.
  • Are quiet and reliable.

When Does PV Cost Less Than a Utility Line?

To determine when PV costs less consider these four factors:

  1. The distance of the well from existing electrical service lines.
  2. The amount of water required.
  3. How far, both vertically and horizontally, the water must be pumped.
  4. How much sunlight the region receives.

 Contact Northwest Rural Public Power District for a certified PV installer or service provider.

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