Is solar-powered pumping of groundwater for irrigation a panacea for water and food insecure areas? It certainly can be marketed that way: in India, the use of solar energy for this purpose is helping ease the load on overburdened electricity grids and reduce its carbon footprint. Other countries such as Morocco and Yemen are following suit, enticed by clean and renewable energy that enables farmers to irrigate their fields for improved crop production, better nutrition and increased income generation.
A new paper published in the journal Energy Policy argues, however, that success of solar-powered groundwater irrigation depends on giving careful consideration to the policies that support it. According to the study authors – Alvar Closas and Edwin Rap, researchers at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) – policies and projects offering strong incentives to adopt solar-powered pumps may inadvertently lead to negative environmental and economic impacts. To avoid these, they suggest, requires an appropriate evaluation of the available water resources and of the possible trade-offs within the water-energy-food nexus.
To read the IWMI feature in full, click here.
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