The pilot system (pictured) is the first of its kind in southern Africa according to its developer, Germany’s BayWa r.e.
The plant supplies 450 kWh for up to 13 hours per day to the German and Zambian agriculture ministries’ joint Agricultural Knowledge & Training Centre, which uses the power to irrigate crops.
The plant’s 260 solar modules are installed in an east-west orientation with a total capacity of 86 kWp, and power the irrigation of a 90,000 square-metre grain field.
If more energy is generated than can be consumed immediately, it is stored temporarily in a 160 kWh battery energy storage system. An intelligent control system enables the water reservoir to serve as additional storage.
The farm is supplied with PV power continuously from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, when it operates off the public grid. It is then reconnected to the grid at night.
BayWa r.e. said the system avoids the consumption of 150 litres of diesel fuel per day and the emission of 145 tonnes of CO2 per year.
BayWa r.e. was responsible for the planning, financing, installation and turn-key handover of the plant, and plans to assume technical operations management at a later date.
In addition to continuous remote monitoring from Germany, BayWa r.e. said it helps to train the farmers at the site so that they can take over routine maintenance tasks.
Tobias Kriete, regional manager for Africa at BayWa r.e, said: “It is precisely in the tropical and subtropical regions of the globe where farmers are dependent on reliable and uninterrupted power supply for the irrigation of their fields.
“With intelligently designed weak grid solutions like our PV battery storage system, we can supply operations with reliably and sustainably produced energy, independent of their connection to the public grid.
“This not only increases the productivity of processes but also contributes to a significant improvement in their ecological assessment.”