Irrigation Optimization and Well Pump Monitoring to Reduce Energy and Water Consumption

Utility pole, smart meter and water pump in a field demonstrating PowWow's technology to save energy and optimize irrigation while maintaining or improving crop yields.

Save energy and optimize irrigation while maintaining or improving crop yields

Project Overview

Recipient: PowWow Energy, Inc.

Program: EPIC

Award Amount: $2,292,829

Co-funded Amount: $535,568

Agreement Number: EPC-14-081

Project Term: 6/15/2015 - 4/1/2018

Project Status: Closed

Recipient Location:  San Mateo, CA

Site Location(s):  Davis, CA; Hanford, CA; Helm, CA; Tulare, CA; Winters, CA

The Issue

Annual electricity used to supply water to farms is estimated to be 10 TWh per year, or about 4% of California's total electricity usage. This usage increases significantly in drought years due to the need to pump water from increasingly deeper wells. In 2014, California growers extracted an estimated additional 5 million acre-feet of groundwater from aquifers to compensate for the lack of surface water and rain, resulting in an additional $454 million of energy costs for water pumping. This usage of groundwater is not sustainable, and resulted in the Governor signing a law (SB1168) to require growers to monitor groundwater extraction.

Project Innovation

This project is demonstrating a software tool that links groundwater extraction with smart meter data to provide growers with automated information on energy and water consumption. This data is augmented by weather data and optional soil moisture data from local sensors to provide information to growers regarding irrigation needs. Use of the software program could help inform growers and reduce irrigation while maintaining or optimizing yield. This technology is being applied over 1,000 acres of farms owned by several growers of alfalfa, tomato, pistachios and almonds.

Project Benefits

Reduced irrigation techniques have not been adopted by growers because of perceived risks associated with lower crop yield and quality, and lack of equipment and labor to measure water consumption. This project is developing a unique software tool for measuring groundwater extraction and water application, by leveraging smart meter data, as well as existing water data in the cloud and at the farm sites. The tool is unique because it uses smartmeter data to measure water volumes from pumps without installing hardware devices on site. The tool also communicates with the farmer and irrigator to optimize crop yields and water applications.

Lower Costs: Supplying water for on-farm irrigation is an energy intensive task (especially for groundwater pumped from wells) that results in a large expense for growers. This technology could lower electricity costs associated with water pumping for farms. Additionally, optimized irrigation may reduce water use and could increase crop yield. For the affected demonstration farms, this could annually save approximately 400,000 kWh and 1,000 Acre-feet of water, or about $60,000 annually in energy cost.

Environmental Benefits: Reduction in energy use will result in reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Reduction in water use will lessen the impact on ground water pumping and issues associated with subsidence, especially in the Central Valley.




Project Overview

Recipient: PowWow Energy, Inc.

Program: EPIC

Award Amount: $2,292,829

Co-funded Amount: $535,568

Agreement Number: EPC-14-081

Project Term: 6/15/2015 - 4/1/2018

Project Status: Closed

Recipient Location:  San Mateo, CA

Site Location(s):  Davis, CA; Hanford, CA; Helm, CA; Tulare, CA; Winters, CA

Project Team

CEC Project Manager: Anish Gautam

Recipient Contact: Olivier Jerphagnon

Match Partner(s): UC Santa Barbara; UC Davis; PowWow Energy, Inc.

Subcontractor(s): UC Santa Barbara; Regents of University of California, Davis; Visgence Inc.; Aduro Accounting & Consulting, LLC; Integrous


 

 

For questions or additional information, please email RandDProjectinfo@energy.ca.gov

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