Training for solar pump operators on basic solar pumping system maintenance

A Sustainability Training for selected Tongatapu Solar Water Pumps Operators and Administrators was conducted by IUCN Oceania and the Government of Tonga from 11-15 July in Nukualofa, Tonga.

Tongatapu communities get their water supply from wells. Normally diesel pumps are used to pump water to overhead storage tanks. Increasingly, these diesel pumps are being replaced by solar pumps. IUCN and the Government of Tonga through funding support from the Governments of Italy and Austria recently replaced 11 such systems in Tongatapu.

A solar pump eliminates the use of diesel during the day when water is used the most. As the pumps are automated, it maintains a continuous supply of water to the tanks during the day and thus there is less disruption to community water supplies. In diesel schemes, pumps are sometimes left on for too long thus wasting water or they may run dry during the day when water is needed the most because pumping is not continuous. In using solar pumps the communities do not have to continuously travel to town to buy diesel for the pump thus saving the community’s time and money. By replacing their diesel pumps with solar water pumps the villagers are directly contributing to meeting Tonga’s INDC GHG emission targets as required under the Paris Agreement.

The training was divided in two parts. The first four days was for pump operators and pumps maintenance technicians and the last day was for pump system administrators. The first day and a half was spent in theories in the classroom and this covered pump design, maintenance and climate change issue. The second part was two and a half days spent in the field at Ha’alalo and Toloa where the participants had hands-on training under the supervision of Mr Henry Cassin and Mr. Warren Lanrock from the pump suppliers Whatpowercrisis of New Zealand.

A total of 35 trainees were trained: 11 trainees were pump operators from the communities and the rest were employees from five Tonga electrical companies.

Feedback from the trainees has been very positive. The trainees from the electrical companies on Tongatapu found the training to be very useful. The Department of Energy was also glad that now they had employees from five companies to call on should anything go wrong with the pumps.

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