The Spanish National Federation of Irrigation Communities (FENACORE) is behind a large-scale European project designed to promote the use of photovoltaic solar power for the pumping and distribution of irrigation water, as a measure to offset the sharp increase in electricity costs in the sector. The project is funded by the European Union to the tune of five million euro and will allow irrigators to save up to 60% on electricity bills.
Since the special feed-in tariffs were done away with in 2008, the price for contracted power capacity has increased by over 1,000%, resulting in an average increase in electricity bills of more than 100%. This makes many modern irrigation systems unfeasible because, while they save water, they also require more power. The project, called Maslowaten, is being undertaken in close cooperation with the Polytechnic University of Madrid, along with a number of companies and universities from other countries. It has enabled the setting up of a total of five solar energy plants, distributed over a number of irrigation areas in Spain (2), Italy, Portugal and Morocco.