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Have You Read?Sierra Leone: Solar Systems to Power Six Hospitals

The Ministry of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone celebrated the successful commissioning of decentralised solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and batteries that started to provide electricity to six key hospitals last week.

The new energy systems provide a combined installed capacity of nearly 0.6 megawatt-peak (MWp) to the healthcare facilities.

These renewable energy systems replaced unreliable and polluting diesel generators atmany of the six hospitals, providing a more consistent supply of dependable and cleanpower for the critical infrastructure used by doctors and nurses to treat patients.

Speaking at the commissioning event at Ola During Children's Hospital in Freetown, one ofthe six electrified hospitals, the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr Austin H. Demby said "Before this time, they relied on the national grid and backup generators, which were very expensive to run and, in some cases, cost 20% of the budget of the hospitals, which is notsustainable. The health sector will work assiduously to go green".

"These hospitals have gone through a transition that will forever change the way healthcare is delivered in the country," Demby said.

Improving healthcare through clean energy access

Sierra Leone's power system faces various challenges. A significant portion of the population lacks access to electricity, with the country's electrification rate sitting atapproximately 26%, according to Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL). In rural areas, the electrification rate is particularly low at approximately 6%.

SEforALL's 2023 Market Assessment and Roadmap for Health Facilities in Sierra Leone also revealed that 38% of health facilities lack reliable access to energy.

As such, the country can benefit significantly from solar PV (photovoltaic) and battery energy storage projects, particularly for healthcare facilities which require a continuous and stable power supply.

Following detailed energy audits, six major hospitals in Freetown, Kambia, Masanga, Kabala and Bonthe were selected for electrification.

The overall goal of this hybrid power project is to enable improved delivery of healthcare in Sierra Leone, especially maternal and child health services in unelectrified or poorly electrified facilities, through improved access to modern, affordable and sustainable electricity services.

"The electrical and solar installation for the hospital is life-changing. 70 to 80 babies andchildren are receiving critical care every day, which needs reliable and sustainable energy.

*The medical equipment will last longer, and there is economic benefit to the hospital as thefunds can now be directed to other necessary equipment", said Dr Ayeshatu Mustapha, theMedical Superintendent at Ola During hospital.

Ensuring long-term operations

The project has been funded by the UK and implemented by Sustainable Energy for All in partnership with Crown Agents and EM-ONE Energy Solutions.

To ensure that the energy systems and the associated benefits of the project are sustained in the long run, the project partners are developing a model for longer-term operations and maintenance (O&M) and training hospital staff to be involved in this effort, as well as creating a framework to monitor and evaluate the health and environmental impacts overtime.

*Such a comprehensive model for health facility electrification beyond this current project is another major outcome of this work. We are already beginning to see results on the ground, with healthcare workers able to offer medical services late into the night and operate equipment which requires a steady power connection. This project is going to impact thousands of lives", said Madhusagar Singh, Project Manager (Powering Healthcare Project),Sierra Leone,SEforALL.


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