In North Queensland, an innovative farmer has teamed up with a group of suppliers to install the East Coast’s first megalitre per day false bore pump, powered entirely by the sun.
The story began in early 2015, when a property owner in North Queensland began investigating the possibility of solar electricity powering the residence and workers’ accommodation on his farm, which up until then was being fed by a single-wire earth return (SWER) powerline.
SWER powerlines are common in outback and regional areas of Queensland; but they have power limitations due to the single-wire return configuration.
The property owner arranged an initial site visit with Atlas Solar at his property outside Collinsville.
The owner enquired about either solar powering an irrigation pump, which at that time was being powered by the SWER line, or using a mobile diesel-powered pump.
Both of these applications (as most owners will tell you) require lots of maintenance and lots of money to run.
“Solar power and solar pumps have been around for a long time, but mainly in small configurations for supplying water for stock, so it came as a bit of a shock when the owner said he wanted to pump 1.2 megalitres of water per day from a riverbed, up a 30 metre rise and then 1km to the holding dam,” said Matthew Beech of Atlas Solar.
“At first we didn’t know if it could be done,” said Mr Beech. “But we knew we could build any size solar system to meet any demand, and with the support from Supply Partners in Brisbane and ABB in Sydney, we came up with the perfect combination.
“Everything we did, from panel selection to power cable, was over-engineered for this project. These systems will be built in extreme conditions and they need to last, this one was no exception. We have built this to last the owner twenty or more years,” said Mr Beech.
Working in partnership with CSWS Irrigation and Pumping in Toowoomba, who had a man on the ground in North Queensland and from the first site visit, the team worked together towards the ambitious goal of building the first megalitre per day false bore pump, on the East Coast, powered entirely by the sun.
Many man hours went into engineering the components. The installation took about a week and was commissioned in early November 2015. Some fine tuning was required on the solar side, which now gives the owner up to ten hours of run time on clear days and four to five hours on cloudy days.
“It was an amazing feeling when the ABB pump drive was powered up for the first time and beautiful clear water was seen exiting the pipe nearly one kilometre away,” said Mr Beech.
“We believe that with the successful installation of this groundbreaking solar pump, we can offer irrigators the opportunity to power their operations efficiently and, more importantly, without another fuel bill.”
According to Mr Beech, the client for this project put in a monumental effort to assist in the completion of it.
Sadly, the owner’s father, who was involved in the construction of the project, passed away shortly after theproject was completed. The owner told Mr Beech that all his father wanted was to see the pump work.
“He got his wish, and we thank him for it,” said Mr Beech.