Solar power essential for irrigation, land reclamation projects: minister

Irrigation Minister Hossam Moghazy has stressed the need for investment in solar energy to secure sustainable energy sources, while simultaneously helping with land reclamation and irrigation projects.

Speaking at a symposium on solar-powered irrigation pumps on Tuesday, Moghazy said that Egypt is perfectly placed to benefit from solar energy, which is considered a clean source of energy with no negative impact on the natural environment.

He said the economic cost of producing solar energy is affordable in the medium- and long-term, with a wide range of applications within the Egyptian context, including pumping ground-water for irrigation.

Using solar power to pump water is a good way to regulate the number of hours that pumps were in operation, thereby helping to avoid depletion of ground-water supplies, he explained.

According to Moghazy, plans for implementing solar-powered water-pumping wells will allow the ministry to evaluate ground water supplies and adjust pumping rates where necessary, while the wells themselves will belong to those using the water.

The ministry's plan involves operating wells alternately to allow the reservoirs to be naturally replenished.

In March 2015, the minsiter announced plans for large-scale projects of this sort in the Western Desert and the Delta region.
According to announcements at the time, solar energy would be used to operate wells in the reclamation of one million acres in the Western Desert.
The ministry started a pilot project on the use of solar power in running surface irrigation techniques in the Delta in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The project was funded by the Italian government at a cost of US$500,000.  
Plans were also announced for an irrigation project in the governorate of Beheria covering an area of 500 acres, saving the cost of diesel fuel which is used to run water pumps. 
The minister said at the time that the projects would address water shortages for irrigation during the summer.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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