Low-Cost Pay-Per-Use Irrigation Using Solar Trolley Systems

Innovator (Country of Incorporation): 
India
Location Applied: 
Clean Energy Source: 
Agricultural Focus: 
Product Segment: 
Year of Award: 
Financing Status: 
Organization: 

Claro Energy provides off-grid solar power pumping solutions to power-deficient regions in India. The company was established in 2011, with the objective of harnessing solar power to pump ground water. Claro’s solar water pump solutions can have broad application across irrigation, agriculture, drinking water, and urban settings.

Problem/Opportunity: 

In India, the availability of irrigation water is dependent on monsoon patterns or the availability of power to operate ground water pumps. Many villages lack access to electricity. Given this lack of electricity, diesel pumps are often the most reliable means to pump the water that is used for irrigation. The use of diesel fuel has many drawbacks, including environmental pollution, as well as ever-increasing costs which have a negative impact on farmers’ economic prosperity.

Clean Energy Solution: 

Claro Energy is developing a pay-per-use irrigation service that uses a portable solar pump. The portable design will provide affordable, convenient, and on-demand irrigation. The service will meet the needs of a wide range of farmers who do not own pumps, with no upfront capital costs incurred. The farmer will call a toll-free line, pre-pay, and schedule irrigation service at his field.

Impact: 

The project will enable villages in India to irrigate larger amounts of farmland independent of the monsoon patterns or the availability of power to operate ground water pumps, resulting in increased production during the summer season, and allowing funds saved on the purchase of diesel to be invested in more efficient technologies. All of these results will increase farmers’ productivity and income, while decreasing GHG emissions. The project will also create employment in rural, agricultural communities, as villagers have the opportunity to become local irrigation service providers.

Progress Update: 

Claro Energy has installed 5 fixed solar systems and 50 trolley systems, all of which are currently being used in fields for irrigation and serving 30-40 farmers per day. A pre-paid card system is now being used for remote activation of the pump/cart systems. Over 900 farmers are benefitting from the systems, with roughly 18% of those being women. Claro has a staff of 12 professionals available to provide technical assistance to users and continues to conduct trainings and demonstrations. Farmer feedback was crucial in the design of the pump, and Claro used this to create a new version of their trolley product. Claro expects to deploy another 25 pumps by the end of 2018. Claro’s award has been extended to June 2019.

Project News: 
Sep. 28, 2018

India has seen over $42 billion in renewable energy investment over the last 4 years. Claro Energy is a part of the upsurge of innovation that's helping India to meet its 100 GW solar power target by 2022—an important part of the country's overall global climate change commitments.

Jul. 4, 2018

Claro Energy's solar water pumps are a great solution in remote, off-grid regions. Plus, farmers can earn extra income by selling surplus energy. Another Claro innovation: e-rickshaws that bring pay-per-use solar panels to farmers, who can then irrigate using RFID cards, cash or micro-finance.