Main features

  • Language of instruction: English
  • The course is an in-depth look at the planning, design, installation, testing, operation and maintenance of solar powered water systems (Download the course programme here).
  • The course is conceived with a focus on use for humanitarian and development contexts.
  • The course is based in the book “Solar Pumping for Water Supply: Harnessing solar power in humanitarian and development contexts”, written by Alberto Ibáñez Llario and Asenath W. Kiprono, and published by Practical Action Publishing in 2020 (download the book here).
  • The course is online (self-paced training) with asynchronous tutorials and examinations (continuous evaluation) on the online UPV training platform.
  • Introductory course of 3 ECTS (equivalent to a 30-hour face-to-face course) divided into 11 modules
  • The teaching-learning process is carried out using notes (in pdf) and videos recorded at the UPV.
  • The teaching-learning process is carried out using videos recorded at the UPV and a e-book containing all the subjects, topics, graphics contained in the videos. Additionally, a number of documents, made-for-purpose solar pumping tools and Excel sheets are provided for different modules.
  • The videos discuss the contents of the various course modules.
  • The training material includes practical exercises proposed and solved (in Excel and using software).

Erbil, Iraq 2019


The UPV Lifelong Learning Centre training course ‘SOLAR POWERED WATER SYSTEMS’ introduces the use of photovoltaic (PV) energy solutions for water supply systems. The course describes the different configurations and components used in solar powered water systems (SPWS) and the criteria used to select, assemble and use them in order to provide water through the use of solar energy.

The course will enable water supply practitioners to independently lead the planning, design, implementation, operation and maintenance of solar water pumping systems. Moreover, the participants will become conversant on how to perform economic Life Cycle Cost Analysis of solar pumping systems, so that costing comparisons between solar and other pumping technologies scan be easily established.

The different modules are based on real field experience collected through onsite visits in more than 80 refugee camps and communities in 12 developing countries and therefore, it is especially suited for humanitarian and development workers willing to get the necessary expertise to start using SPWS in their projects worldwide.

Registration for this postgraduate course is open and students may begin at any time of the year. Enrolled students who pass the examinations of the various modules will receive a certificate issued by the university.

You will find more detailed information about these studies in the ‘Student Guide’ and in the following sections. You will also find more information about the course on the website of the Lifelong Learning Centre (here), where registration can be made.

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Adjumani refugee camps, Uganda 2016

PV water pumping installation in West Nile, Uganda, 2017

Payment and registration

The registration fee for the course ‘SOLAR POWERED WATER SYSTEMS’ is €200.

Registration is carried out entirely online at the Lifelong Learning Centre website (apply now). The maximum duration established for this course is three months from the date of enrolment.

Training material

  • Complete e-book (in pdf) including explanations, graphics, diagrams and photos.
  • PDF files with more than 200 original slides prepared by the lecturers, including explanations and graphics.
  • >8 hours of training videos with recorded classes given by lecturers and external professionals.
  • Proposed problems and tests.
  • Excel files with examples.
  • Technical documents and reports.
  • Introduction to the use of solar pumping design software (COMPASS/ LORENTZ and GRUNDFOS)

PV water pumping installation in Rohingya camp, Bangladesh, 2018

Applicant profile

The course is suited to participants with a technical background in water supply i.e. water engineers, field engineers, field technicians, WASH managers and WASH advisors, government water officers and other water supply practitioners wishing to use solar for powering water supplies.

The most suitable profiles for easily following the course are:

  • Water technicians and engineers working in humanitarian and development contexts (NGOs, United Nations agencies, government water offices, donor agencies).
  • Senior engineers and technicians in any field: electronics; electricity; mechanics; industrial; civil; environmental; forestry; etc.
  • Graduates in physics, chemistry, etc.
  • Students in training cycles and professional formation.
  • Technical office staff.
  • Electrical installers and other professionals who seek complementary and applied training in the field of solar PV water pumping.
  • Individuals interested in owning a photovoltaic installation, etc.

The above profiles are not exclusive, and studies may be carried out by others interested in photovoltaic technology: financial managers; graduates in economics and law; financial advisors; individuals interested in owning a photovoltaic installation, etc.

Due to the duration and contents of the course ‘SOLAR POWERED WATER SYSTEMS’, these studies are aimed at students with university degrees or professional training related to energy and/or environmental sustainability.

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All assessment is made online and it is not necessary to complete any type of test at a fixed time or place. Assessments can be made in several sessions in any location with access to the internet.

Students can ask questions about the contents of the exam through the ‘Forum’ available on the online training platform of the Universitat Politècnica de València (PoliformaT).

Each of the 11 modules has a compulsory examination that is marked between 0 and 10.


The average mark obtained in the 11 assessments will be linked to the ACHIEVEMENT certificate that will be issued by the Lifelong Learning Centre of the Universitat Politècnica de València. Students who do not obtain an average grade of 6 will not receive a certificate, although they may re-enrol in the course at a reduced rate to complete the parts failed.

Studies can start at any time of the year. The maximum duration established for the introductory course is 3 months from the date of enrolment.

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Qualification of instructors

Instructors: Alberto Ibanez Llario (IOM), Asenath Kiprono (OXFAM),Salvador Seguí-Chilet (UPV), Pablo González Altozano (UPV)

The trainers are experienced providers of training. They have a water engineering and/or solar photovoltaics background with over 10 years’ experience in design and implementation of solar photovoltaics and solar powered water systems.

The online course development is a collaboration between the Global Solar and Water Initiative (i.e. IOM and Oxfam with funds from USAID) and the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (UPV)

Training group in PVWPS in Maidugiri training, Nigeria 2018

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Academic programme

Download here the programme

Module 0: Introduction to Solar PV energy and Solar Powered Water Systems in Humanitarian and Development Contexts

  • Solar PV water pumping in humanitarian and development contexts.
  • Why the renewed interest in solar PV water pumping?
  • Guidance and rationale for using solar PV water pumping.

Module 1: Main Definitions and Principles of Solar Energy Production

  • The Solar Resource.
  • Definition of solar terms: radiation, photovoltaic, irradiance, insolation, standard test conditions, peak sun hours.
  • Basic DC Electric Concepts.
  • Solar module I-V curve and maximum power point.

Module 2: Solar powered water system configurations and components

  • SPWS configurations and components.
  • Equipment features and quality considerations.
  • Types of solar modules.
  • PV module characteristics.
  • SPWS controls and switchgear.
  • Balance of system components.

Module 3: Factors influencing solar photovoltaic energy production

  • Energy losses due to cell temperature.
  • Wiring energy losses.
  • Energy losses related to the sun irradiance.
  • Energy losses related to the PV module.
  • Energy losses related to power converters and the balance of system.
  • Estimation of the energy yield.

Module 4 –: Design of a Solar Powered Water Scheme:

Module 4 – Part 1. – Design of a SWPS: system planning (SWPS)

  • Solar pump design data.
  • Important design concepts and considerations.
  • Steps to design a solar powered water scheme: water demand assessment, design period, water source assessment, borehole construction and pumping test, design month and design flow rate, water tank sizing.

Module 4 – Part 2. – Design of a SWPS: manual calculation

  • Determination of pump duty point (total dynamic head (TDH) and Flow).
  • Pump selection.
  • Controller selection.
  • Solar PV array sizing, layout and selection.

Module 4 – Part 3. – Design of a SWPS: using solar design software

  • Design using solar pumping sizing tools.
  • Step by step examples of SPWS design.
  • Real field examples of SPWS design.

Maiduguri, Nigeria 2019

Module 5 – Electrical and mechanical installation (E&M installation)

Module 5 – Part 1. – E&M installation: equipment and control

  • Equipment nameplates.
  • Inspection prior to installation.
  • Installation tools.
  • Physical installation checklist.

Module 5 – Part 2. – E&M installation: installation process

  • Pumping system Installation.
  • Cable splicing, dry run protection, pump installation, installation of controls, cabling, module mounting structures, solar modules installation.
  • Earthing, lightning and surge protection.
  • Electrical safety.

Module 6: Practical aspects related to solar powered water pumping

  • Chlorination in solar pumping schemes.
  • Tank automation.
  • Sun tracking.
  • Measures to prevent vandalism and theft.
  • Over-pumping of aquifers due to solar powered schemes.
  • Solar PV in hot climate zones and hot water pumping.
  • Frequently asked questions.

Module 7: Calls for proposal and bidding

  • Quality criteria for solar products & services.
  • Selection of quality solar products.
  • Quality of solar modules.
  • Supplier selection.
  • Bidding process.
  • Technical terms of reference.

Module 8: Economic analysis: life cycle cost for different pumping technologies

  • Pricing of solar schemes.
  • Life cycle cost analysis: real interest rate, net present value, payback period.
  • Economic appraisal using life cycle costing for water pumping.
  • Examples comparing LCCA of solar and generator systems.
  • Financing solar schemes.

Module 9: Testing and commissioning, operation and maintenance

  • Testing, commissioning and hand over.
  • Operation and maintenance of equipment.
  • Service and maintenance contract frameworks.
  • Training.
  • Health & safety.
  • Spare parts management.

Module 10: Long term management of SPWS

  • Warranties and warranty management.
  • Social models of management.
  • Data logging and advance system monitoring and diagnosis tools.
  • Importance of monitoring SPWS.

Maidugiri training, Nigeria 2018