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Photovoltaic systems: A cost competitive option to supply energy to off-grid agricultural communities in arid regions


  • Qoaider, Louy
  • Steinbrecht, Dieter


The main objective of this work is to investigate the economic feasibility of photovoltaic technology to supply the entire energy demands to off-grid irrigated-farming-based communities in the arid regions. This aims at helping these communities to find practical solutions to cope with the rapid rising electricity generation costs, mainly by diesel generators (gensets). The genset electricity costs are typically affected by the high fossil fuel prices, the fuel transport costs and the intensive operation and maintenance (O&M) requirements. The work was conducted on a representative site from which conclusions could be drawn for similar regions. The case study was performed in the New Kalabsha Village in the Lake Nasser Region (LNR) in southern Egypt. The work involved the technical design and the calculation of the life cycle costs (LCC) of a PV system, which is able to supply the village with its entire energy demand. The PV generator was sized in such a way to daily pump 111Â 000Â m3 of lake water to irrigate 1260Â ha acreage plots and to electrify the adjacent village's households. The required pumps were designed to pump the fluctuating lake's water for a maximum differential head of 17Â m in four different locations. Consequently, water from the four pumping stations flows freely by gravity forces to the different plots through overhead open canals. The electricity generation costs and the performance of the designed PV generator were compared with those of an equivalent diesel generator (genset) in order to prove its competitiveness. With this regard, the real market value of the diesel fuel of 86.55Â c[euro]Â l-1 was considered for calculating the costs of genset generated electricity. The results showed that the genset electricity unit costs 39Â c[euro]Â kWÂ h-1 while a unit of PV electricity costs only 13Â c[euro]Â kWÂ h-1 for the equivalent system size and project lifetime. Furthermore, the subsidised genset electricity cost was calculated to be 12Â c[euro]Â kWÂ h-1, which is insignificantly cheaper than that of solar electricity.

Suggested Citation

  • Qoaider, Louy & Steinbrecht, Dieter, 2010. "Photovoltaic systems: A cost competitive option to supply energy to off-grid agricultural communities in arid regions," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 427-435, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:87:y:2010:i:2:p:427-435

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