OUR HOSPITAL RUNS ON SOLAR.
The benefits of clean, renewable power and a diverse energy portfolio teamed with energy savings and environmental stewardship significantly outweigh the potential challenges.
And, even more fundamental to this is the fact that there is no local electric utility where Compassion Evangelical Hospital (CEH) is located. That means that self-generated power is not just a preference, but is absolutely critical to the functioning of our hospital!
The hospital has grown, and it is time for us to expand and improve our energy infrastructure.
Can you Help us? Lives are, literally, at stake!
Criticality of Power
No Onsite Power Generation = No Hospital = No Mission to the Guinean People at CEH
Can you imagine the life-threatening circumstance of the loss of power in the middle of surgery or while performing a diagnostic procedure?! Reliable power is essential to the functioning of Compassion Evangelical Hospital (CEH), including its’ hospital, operating rooms, outpatient clinics, nursing school, and supporting departments. As is true in so many third world locations, there is no local power network here, so solar has become our primary means of powering this complex. When it first opened in 2009, the hospital complex was powered solely by a large diesel generator, …noisy, inefficient, and subject to breakdowns. Beginning in 2015, we began the transition to energy efficient LED lights and solar power. Now the entire complex is served by a system of solar panels, batteries and controllers which can be monitored not only onsite, but by our team in the states by monitoring a number of technical parameters. The diesel generator has become our back-up to solar. Diesel, while very expensive, is still essential during the rainy season, in times of increased energy use for urgent cases, and in case of solar equipment problems.
Solar Energy provides electricity for…
Laundry & Sterilization
Schools, administration, water well, security, etc. etc.
Donors Have been and Now Are Critical
This has all been made possible through funding by our donors. Some may have been motivated by compassion for people in need, others by a desire to move to more “green energy” others to help us with a more economical and dependable energy source, and yet others simply wanting to make a dramatic impact on the world. Whatever their motivation, we want to thank them all!
Our move to solar power has dramatically decreased the amount of money we spend on diesel fuel for our generators. Rather than running the generators throughout the day, they have become a backup source of power during “low-light” times, mainly for emergencies at night and during the rainy season. The cost of fuel has not only increased in the states, but worldwide. and there are times when obtaining fuel is problematic, due to either availability or transport issues (especially during the rainy season). Since diesel fuel is critical for back-up power, we still need to maintain a certain amount of diesel onsite, but much less than before we had solar power. The annual savings in diesel fuel is truly substantial. Additionally, as we build new clinics or refurbish old buildings, we outfit them with energy efficient lighting.
Planning for Future Expansion
Fortunately, when we first made our move towards solar power, we designed in additional space and capacity to expand our solar system. And NOW, after all these years we have come to a critical point where we need to expand again to meet the needs of our growing hospital. We therefore invite your consideration to contribute to this Solar Expansion Project. By making a contribution of any amount you will help us reach the $30,000 goal needed to expand our system and meet our energy needs for years to come.
History of the Solar Panel Installation at CEH and Current Installation Plan
The Solar Project was planned in 2014 and installed in June of 2015. It was planned by an electrical group with lead design by Neal Willis in MN. It was funded at $160,000 by Autumn Ridge Church in Rochester, MN. Prior to this we had been spending about $1000 per month to purchase fuel for our two diesel generators to give us daytime 9AM to 3-5 PM electricity with nothing on weekends or nights unless a severe emergency occurred. Nighttime work had to be done by flashlight or lanterns. The solar system allows 24/7/365 electricity. Now we run the generators only when the sterilizers are in use 2 times per week due to their high draw on the electrical system. The replacement cost was calculated at 13 years of the fuel cost in the prior system at the restricted hours of that time, or less than 6 years if we moved up to full electricity. The 120 original panels are expected to last 20 years, and the life expectancy of the lead batteries was 13 years initially. Inverters and controllers are expected to last at least 20 years. The system is connected to a dedicated computer and the internet allowing US electrical engineers to track the charging and use of the electricity in nearly real time. There have been occasional glitches to this surveyance, but it usually allows rapid trouble shooting with the local maintenance and electrical staff. A Dutch CMA missionary named Anco, based in Dakar, Senegal, has repeatedly assisted in trouble shooting and upgrading our current system including procuring for $20,000, 100 used but "new to us" solar panels from Holland and 60 Lithium batteries to run parallel to our lead battery storage which should prolong the life of the original batteries. Some of the recent panels have been used for single-buildings remote from the central hospital system but at least 40 are reserved for another array joined to the current central hospital system. The residual current need of $30,000 for this electrical upgrade is for the racks for the solar arrays adding 40 more panels, additional new inverters and controllers, and for a lightening mitigation system to protect the whole system.
Global Perspective of Solar Power
Expansion of Solar Power in Sub-Saharan Africa Makes a Lot of Sense
Over the past 15 years, solar energy – more specifically, off-grid solar systems, composed of solar panels generating electricity and battery storage to provide power at night – has often been heralded as a ‘golden solution’ for electrifying Africa. These systems are particularly relevant to sub-Saharan countries, where the grid is often unreliable and only available in urban areas.
Off-grid solar was instrumental in increasing energy access by 32% in sub-Saharan Africa from 2008-17. Favourable solar irradiance, increasingly cost-effective photovoltaic and battery technology solutions, and innovative pay-as-you-go business models unleashed a gold rush of international private investor capital into the sector. From 2012-2019, $1.1 billion was invested in off-grid solar projects and enterprises across sub-Saharan Africa. This significant inflow of capital was to be a harbinger of a brighter future and energy access for all. It would allow countries to bypass dependency on unreliable national power grids and prohibitive grid expansion costs.