The feasibility of renewable energy sources for pumping clean water in sub-saharan Africa: a case study for Central Nigeria

2013-08-30T13:29:45Z (GMT) by Michael Cloutier Paul Rowley
With less than 6 mm of rain from November through February every year, the central regions of Nigeria are in acute need of safe and consistent water supplies for drinking and other domestic or agricultural uses. Borehole supplies are capable of meeting a significant proportion of water needs, but ongoing fuel costs to power a generator and pump add a heavy burden to already disadvantaged communities. In this study, a techno-economic analysis is carried out in order to assess the feasibility of renewable energy sources and technologies to substitute for fossil-fuel powered pumping platforms. The results indicate that there is sufficient solar resource throughout these regions to facilitate relatively cost effective water pumping solutions, as well as a potentially effective wind resource depending on the exact location of the pumping station. Although systems based on these resources have high capital costs compared to petrol or diesel-based platforms, over a 20-year project life, the analysis indicates that ongoing fuel costs for a fossil-fuel-based system greatly outweigh the increased up-front costs of renewable alternatives. In conclusion, the results indicate that if the water demand at a particular site exceeds the capabilities of a hand pump, a renewable energy-powered pumping system is an attractive option, both economically and logistically in comparison to fossil-fuel-powered alternatives.