The Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) together with the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) are driving innovative ways to power off-grid rural medical facilities in West Africa.
The Phoebe Hospital in Liberia is part of the 99% who are not connected to the national grid in that country. The hospital consumes between $24 000 (ZAR277 409) and $40 000 (ZAR462 389) gallons of diesel a month to power theatre lights and critical life-saving treatments and machines. Phoebe is an essential part of the community which provides 500 000 residents with medical treatment.
The Phoebe hospital will be installed with a PV micro-grid system that will supply 95% of their energy consumption. The solar system will save the hospital $350 000 (ZAR4 million) a year which can be used towards critical care. The initiative includes skills training of the local workforce to carry out efficient and regular maintenance and repairs.
With seasonal changes transport routes are not always viable for diesel distribution and occasionally funds are redirected from electricity expenditure to meet other priorities.
RREAL and the women of ELCA have founded the ‘Skip the Grid’ initiative which involves the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) micro-grids for local power generation.
“Skip the Grid projects, like PV for Phoebe, will increase access to electricity through small-scale energy solutions, strengthening health care infrastructure in Liberia. Training locals in installation and maintenance will increase self-reliance and enhance their technical ability to change their energy future”, RREAL director Jason Edens said.