The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded a grant to a New Mexico company to develop a solar-powered irrigation pump.LOS ALAMOS, New Mexico, US, 2001-06-14 [SolarAccess.com] The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded a grant to a New Mexico company to develop a solar-powered irrigation pump. Hydro-Air Technologies, a subsidiary of Solar Energy Ltd., has received the grant to manufacture and test a prototype unit within six months. After successful completion of the first phase, the company will develop a commercially marketable solar irrigation pump. Water pumps that use solar photovoltaic panels to generate electricity for an electric drive pump provide only small quantities of water, claim officials of the Los Alamos company. Such systems can produce enough water for livestock or for domestic use, but are too expensive to produce large quantities of water for irrigating a farm.. SEL will use its patented Solawatt panels which are laid on the ground to collect the heat of the sun in water flowing through panels. The hot water is piped to the solar irrigation pump where its energy is used to drive a novel pump. For water to be raised by 10 m, a unit with a 10 x 10 m solar collector could pump one acre-foot of water during a day with 12 hours of sunshine, or a 12 acre farm one inch of water in one day. If the crops need one inch of water per week, the pumping unit could continuously irrigate a 80 acre farm, assuming 12 hours of sunshine each day. For a larger farm or deeper wells, more solar collectors would be needed. The solar pump was deemed to address “high priority energy and water supply issues and would have wide scale applications with a high probability of success,” according to the USDA grant approval. SEL officials say the solar irrigation pump could be used in regions of the world where water and fertile soil are available, but there are no transmission lines to provide power. The system could also be used to pump water through long-distance pipelines for municipalities.