For a long time, diesel engines have the highest cost in the international development circle.
Effective tools for pumping water and powering villages.
But Robert Ferlin has been taking this theory to heart.
Executive director of Washington
Solar Fund (SELF)
Freling proves that solar energy can be more economical for internal combustion engines with high cost performance
Earnings analysis goes beyond the short term.
Exhibit A is A self-development project in Benin, A small country in West Africa (map).
In 2007, NGOs completed an ambitious plan to bring solar energy
Power-fed drip irrigation systems two kalalé rural dry areas in duncasa and besasi, in the northern part of the country.
To bring water to dry land for farming, the project combines two mature solar and drip irrigation techniques that are rarely used together.
The idea of the Benin project began two years ago when Freling received a call from Mamoudo sétamou, associate professor of agriculture at Texas A & M University --Kingsville.
When he grew up in Benin, he recently visited calaré and was frustrated by the lack of electricity in the countryside.
Saitama heard about his successful solar project in a Nigerian village.
He decided to take good care of Benin. (
Related: "The solar project in Nigeria is both failed and successful ")
Needss é tamou's cold call snipe worked, but the result was not what he thought.
When the self-representative arrived in Benin, they realized that the lights were very low in the list of villagers' needs. A six-
The one-month dry season means no crops or fresh vegetables for most of the year, a problem that causes malnutrition and disease, especially in children.
"Long-standing food insecurity is all their top concern," Freling said in his office on K Street, Washington, DC, a recent afternoon. C.
He showed all kinds of solar energy there.
Lights and photos of former President Clinton and the Dalai Lama.
"This is very basic at the demand level.
"Instead of starting with the electric light, SELF first developed a plan to install a solar irrigation system that would allow women's agricultural cooperatives to grow fresh vegetables for food and sales.
Drip irrigation has a long history as an efficient method of collecting water from dry land and is an obvious choice for Benin.
Unlike the transitional irrigation system that sprays water to the air, the drip irrigation system relies on gravity to pull the water directly from the reservoir through the piping system to the roots of the plant.
Most applications, however, rely on diesel engines to deliver water to the reservoir.
From the beginning, Freling said, he envisioned the project as a sun-driven drip irrigation system.
But whether matching drip irrigation and solar energy is feasible, and whether it is economical, remains an open question.
Engineers set out from the blueprint for the diesel drip irrigation system used in Senegal and Niger to develop a solar energy-
The organization named the systems "solar market gardens" and began instilling them.
In besassi, a solar water pump is now pumping water from a year ago.
A circular stream of reservoirs.
In Dunkassa, water is pumped from the ground.
When needed most, the pump runs the strongest when the sun goes down and dry the soil.
In all respects, the project has been economically and technically successful.
Each of the three solar cells
The average supply of Didi system is now 1.
Produce 9 tons per month, including tomatoes, okra, peppers, eggplant, carrots, amaranth and vegetables.
The systems cost about $25,000, and SELF says they pay for themselves in two to three years.
Will diesel generators be cheaper?
The problem has been solved.
A 2010 paper published in the Journal of the National Academy of Sciences compares Benin's solar drip irrigation system with gasoline, diesel and kerosene-driven systems. (
Jennifer Bernie, the leading author of the study and environmental scientist, is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer who has been involved in the project with SELF. )
Although the indirect cost of the solar system is much higher, the study found that the cost of solar energy-
Compete over time.
As fuel prices continue to rise and solar technology costs fall, the authors of the paper say they expect the solar drip irrigation system to become more economical. (
Related article: "Uganda's power drive is still in the upper stream of the Nile River ")
"There is no doubt that if you are looking for the smallest indirect cost, you will use diesel every time," says Freling . ".
"But this is a flawed idea.
You have ongoing fuel costs and operating costs.
You have moving parts and things are broken.
The initial advantage disappears over time and you end up spending more money.
"This has not yet taken into account the ecological advantages of solar energy over soot and greenhouse gas emissions from diesel engines.
Following the success of solar drip irrigation by Dunkassa and Bessassi, the organization is expanding the project.
SELF, whose goal is to bring solar drip irrigation systems to 11 other villages, is moving towards a non-agricultural challenge.
With funding from National Geographic's major energy Challenge initiative, I plan to install solar systems for families, schools, clinics and community and Internet kiosks, as well as street and market lighting.
This is part of the organization's integrated solar energy development model, which is expected to spread in the developing world.
Mamoudo sétamou's 2005 cold calls to Freling changed the life of the village.
Shortly after Benin's initial solar drip irrigation project began pumping water, setamu visited his hometown and witnessed the change with his own eyes.
As he walked down the street, he saw three children, about four years old, and was surprised to find that they had no signs of flatulence or other malnutrition, even though it was the middle of the dry season.
As he approached, he saw that they were eating carrots.
"When I was a child, I saw carrots in the book . " He recalled how much has changed in Benin.
"Those children are chewing carrots. It was amazing.
"This story is part of a special series to explore energy issues.
For more, please visit the huge energy challenges.