Micro-Business and Female Small-Scale Farmers in Rural India: Empowerment through Sustainable Energy Technology from Switzerland (Swiss Solar Water Pump, BFH, Dept. Engineering and IT)

Low-cost 80W photovoltaic water pumps developed at Bern Univ. of Applied Sci. integrate the same efficient electronics as to win the Australian World Solar Challenge in 1990. The pumps are now tested with female farmers in rural India.

Fiche signalétique

  • Département HESB | Technique et informatique
  • Pôle de recherche Energie, transport, mobilité
  • Champ de recherche Energy, Transportation, Mobility
  • Durée 01.01.2012 - 31.05.2017
  • Direction du projet Eva Schüpbach
  • Partenaires - secteur privé AMRO TECHNOLOGY P
  • Partenaires - établissements de recherche, y c. BFH HESB | Technique et informatique
  • Mots-clés Renewable energy technology, field tests, rural India, female farmers, micro-business

Contexte initial

Renewable energy technology offers a great potential for the energy transition in non-electrified and under-electrified regions. Field tests of the “Swiss Solar Water Pump” are hence carried out in rural India with networks of female small-scale farmers who jointly operate the pumps for irrigation and crop production during the dry season. Data on crop production and sales on the nearby urban market are collected to validate both pump performance and business model.


Test the performance of the "Swiss Solar Water Pump" for irrigation and crop production in small-scale farming. Field tests and business model evaluation are jointly conducted with female farmers' cooperations in rural India.

Compétences clés

Technology transfer and competences associated to the market introduction of low-cost sustainable energy technology in emerging markets and developing economies.


A Kick-off Meeting was held in Bangalore, India, from 6-8 February 2012 to discuss objectives and the schedule of the 2-year (2012-13) project with both business and educational project partners. A subsequent technical meeting in Bangalore (March 2012) focused on the engineering aspects of the pump. After pump installation sites had been identified, a first series of Vane surface pumps was installed in June 2012, and a subsequent monitoring system was applied.


Lessons learned were integrated in the further development of the "Swiss Solar Water Pump" technology. For the 2nd series of installation in 2013, the new pumps will be used and new data gathered on pump performance for crop irrigation.