In the Dominican Ecological Centre (Centro Ecologico Cibao), a photovoltaic system has recently been installed. The energy provided is used to water the plants that grow there.
It is especially used for the organic bananas that grow on the plantation, which is 18 hectares in size and is situated next to the Ecological Centre. These bananas need a well-functioning water management system. A garden hose is obviously not sufficient anymore. The necessary water is obtained from the local water channel and electricity is used for the pumping. The public electricity supply in the country is unstable though. The energy infrastructure is dated and poorly managed. Constant interruptions occur therefore on a daily basis.
High tech plates capture free solar energy – Photo: Biotropic
In the past, in order to water the plants in an efficient way, a pump with a diesel motor was used, which is very common in the country. With this new photovoltaic system, the Ecological Centre and the plantation do not need fossil energy anymore and can cultivate by using solar power alone. The energy itself is free and available for everyone. It is a prime example of how sustainable technology can be used in practice.
The 95,000 dollar (80,000 euros) system is an investment for the present and the future. The following data concern the new watering system:
• 34 kilowatt hours (kwh) power
• a daily saving of 58 kilos of carbon dioxide (CO2)
In the circle is a water sprinkler – Photo: Biotropic
“Important in choosing the right pump was to find a model that can provide us with the necessary pressure for the water sprinklers that are already in use,” said Volker Schmidt, the Agrarian engineer of the Dominican Biotropic. “The sprinkler needs about 1 bar in order to function. Newer systems can deliver this performance. That was a challenging part of the installation process.”
Organic bananas must be watered regularly as well – Photo: Biotropic
The conventional watering method in the Dominican Republic is the so-called flood surcharge, which means that water is fed over the surface of the field. The water use is, however, unnecessarily high and important nutrients are washed away as well. The Dominican Biotropic has therefore installed these more efficient water sprinklers. Valuable water is used on a cheaper and proportioned basis.
This new solar system was integrated into the already existing system, which brings several environmental aspects together: a photovoltaic plant which provides the office, storage and packing station with energy; a wetland for the treatment of wastewater, as well as a composting system.
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Publication date: 10/12/2017