Irrigation Scale Water Pumping Made Possible by ABB
Until recently solar water pumping has been limited to small scale pumping operations: 6 gallons per hour, residential scale or stock watering units.
But things have changed.
We’ve been installing Variable Frequency Drives (VFD’s) at Hire Electric for almost 20 years now. Driving pumps from 3hp to 250hp. I’ve often wondered when someone would make the jump to a solar drive. A VFD is basically a rectifier that turns 3 phase, 480V AC (or 208V or 240V single phase) into DC and then uses IGBT’s to deliver a variable frequency and voltage to a 3 phase motor – running it at whatever speed is required for the operation. The applications are almost limitless and the cost savings over across-the-line AC control can be vast: Think utility demand charges, wear & tear, inefficiency of running a motor at full tilt and valving it down to 25%, etc. So, heating up the DC buss in a drive with solar rather than rectified AC is basically just cutting out the middle man.
I’ve seen some experimental projects using large scale solar and bench built drives to pump water but until recently there hasn’t been a commercially available product.
In India ABB recently launched a new line of SOLAR drives that run standard, 3 phase, AC motors from 1/2 HP to 25HP. ABB is marketing these drives heavily in the developing world to help reduce the cost of water pumping and open up areas that have never had a reliable water supply. There are huge potential applications for these drives in agriculture and off grid facilities here in the Columbia Basin as well. I recently got this update from ABB:
We here at ABB Untied States are playing catchup with respect to the ACS355 solar pump inverter (SPI). The ACS355 is an industrial drive that normally is installed in factory settings. The big difference between the ACS355 industrial version and ACS355 SPI is the firmware in the drive. The ACS355 SPI was a product developed for India and we here in the US had little knowledge of it until customers started to ask for it.
We’ve asked and they hope to have the product released for sale to distribution by the end of Q2, 2014 (June). Can’t wait! Click here for the ABB Solar Drive cut sheet.
— Hire Electric Solar (@hireelectric) February 8, 2014