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An Egyptian company, KarmSolar, has developed new technology that that will enable “off grid” farms to use solar energy to power their high capacity water pumps.
“Off grid” refers to areas that are off of Egypt’s main power grid, which provides electricity to most of the country. However, since most of Egypt’s fertile agricultural land runs exclusively along the Nile, farmers who wish to move further out are currently forced to use diesel engines to pump the water used to irrigate their land.
Diesel engines are not only unreliable, but particularly harmful to the environment. Previously, off grid renewable energy solutions were not financially feasible to compete with these engines, but KarmSolar believes that has now changed.
At the heart of the technology are more efficient components that make better use of minimal sunlight conditions, allowing for the powering of high-capacity pumps, as well as interactive software that will allow its users to easily specify at dawn what their energy requirements will be for the day.
KarmSolar believes this will allow farmers to reduce their energy bills by 50-60 percent.
“The power generated could actually be used for anything, not only farming,” says Xavier Auclair, one of the scientists involved in the project at KarmSolar. “However, since 80 percent of diesel engines are currently being used for water pumping purposes, that was the main focus of our research.”
Auclair also says that the vision is to create what could eventually be the seed for ecovillages of the future that will be able to function regardless of their proximity to a primary power source.
KarmSolar, being just a small team of environmental scientists, is currently in the process of obtaining funding to create a pilot project that will serve as a regional demonstration.
As part of this, they are currently semi-finalists in Google’s Egyptian Business Development Association (EBDA) competition that will grant finalists US$200,000.
KarmSolar is currently partnered with the renowned American company Worldwater & Solar Technologies.