WIT Press

Water And Energy Consumption After The Modernization Of Irrigation In Spain


Free (open access)





Page Range

457 - 465




344 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


C. González-Cebollada


The goal of this paper is to analyze aspects relating to saving water and energy consumption of the modernization of irrigation in Spain. In relation to water saving, it studies the most important irrigation modernization processes and their water saving goals. Next, it presents water accounting as a tool for water resource assessment of irrigable areas. Based on this, it concludes that, in general, modernized irrigation in Spain consumes more water than before, mainly due to changes in crop patterns, the increase in irrigated areas, and the greater satisfaction of the water requirements of crops. Different case studies are analyzed, all revealing higher water consumption after modernization. Regarding energy consumption, it studies the greater electricity consumption arising from irrigation modernization when surface irrigation is replaced by pressurized irrigation using pumping systems. It analyses the high economic cost of this pressurization since the liberalization of the electricity market in 2008, and how this high operating cost constitutes a serious threat to the economic viability of some modernized areas. As a general conclusion, it observes that irrigation modernization policy in Spain, mainly financed with billions of euros from Europe, Spanish state and Spanish regions, and justified socially by hypothetical water savings, has not in practice led to any water savings, but rather the reverse. Productivity in modernized farms has increased, but their general costs and the costs of amortizing the investments made have also increased. Thus, despite substantial public funding, in certain cases modernization can be a threat to the economic viability of the same farm which is modernized, which may find it needs new public funding.


irrigation modernization, water consumption, energy consumption