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Al Watania farm pilots solar-powered irrigation

First Solar and Al Watania Agricultural Company have completed a pilot project for solar-powered irrigation at Al Watania Organic Farm in Al Jawf Region, Saudi Arabia.

Al Watania Organic Farm's 684kW AC photovoltaic (PV) plant was built to power groundwater extraction and distribution operations.
Al Watania Organic Farm's 684kW AC photovoltaic (PV) plant was built to power groundwater extraction and distribution operations.
Al Watania Organic Farm's 684kW AC photovoltaic (PV) plant was built to power groundwater extraction and distribution operations.
Al Watania Organic Farm's 684kW AC photovoltaic (PV) plant was built to power groundwater extraction and distribution operations.
Al Watania Organic Farm's 684kW AC photovoltaic (PV) plant was built to power groundwater extraction and distribution operations.
Al Watania Organic Farm's 684kW AC photovoltaic (PV) plant was built to power groundwater extraction and distribution operations.

First Solar and Al Watania Agricultural Company have completed a pilot project for solar-powered irrigation in Saudi Arabia.

A 684kW AC photovoltaic (PV) plant was built to power groundwater extraction and distribution operations at a 2.57ha plot on Al Watania Organic Farm in Al Jawf Region.

The not-for-profit farm, which covers a total of 319.21km2, is the Kingdom’s largest producer of organic products, and currently uses conventional fuel to pump water from 150 bore wells.

Commenting on the pilot project, Eng Ibrahim Aboabat, CEO of Al Watania Agriculture, said: “We are proud to partner with First Solar on this exciting new project, which will not only help reduce our carbon footprint, but will also allow us to explore the potential for solar to reliably support our energy needs.”

The pilot project, which was jointly funded by First Solar Saudi Arabia and Al Watania Agriculture Company, is powered by First Solar’s advanced thin-film PV modules. The modules offer a superior temperature coefficient and spectral performance, making them ideally suited to conditions in Saudi Arabia, according to their designers.

The facility produces 1,476MWh of electricity per year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1,100 tons per year, based on national averages. The solar power plant replaced a generator that – if run continuously – would consume 628,000 litres of diesel per year.

Dr Raed Bkayrat, vice president of business for First Solar in the Middle East, said: “This project is an excellent example of the scalability and flexibility that solar PV offers. Easy to deploy and able to address very specific needs, innovative solar-powered solutions can address a wide range of energy challenges, as this pilot facility demonstrates.

“Sunlight is the region’s most abundant energy resource and the Al Watania Agriculture Company should be applauded for having the vision to sustainably harness affordable and reliable solar electricity to address its energy needs,” he added.

The PV generator that has been installed at Al Watania Organic Farm will pump more than 3.1-million cubic metres of water per year, with no support from conventional generators.

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