Solar Project Saves Lives

by UCZ Mwandi Mission Hospital American Partners
Solar Project Saves Lives
Solar Project Saves Lives
Solar Project Saves Lives
Solar Project Saves Lives
Solar Project Saves Lives
Solar Project Saves Lives
Solar Project Saves Lives
Solar Project Saves Lives
Solar Project Saves Lives
Solar Project Saves Lives
Solar Project Saves Lives
Solar Project Saves Lives
Solar Project Saves Lives
Solar Project Saves Lives

Previous Solar Project Saves Lives reports detailed the successes of the project’s first phase and the plans to embark on Phase 2. In this report, the American Partners are very pleased to report that Corteva Agriscience, a GlobalGiving Corporate Partner, has generously donated $30,000 to support the second phase of the solar project at Mwandi hospital. This amazing gift will allow us to improve and expand our plans for Phase 2. As a reminder, the hospital serves the people in the Mwandi district of Western Province Zambia. The district’s economy is primarily based on agriculture and fishing. The expansion of solar power at the hospital will enable the delivery of safer and more reliable healthcare to this community now and in the future.

Our solar project technical team includes representatives from Zambia and the United States, as well as the solar contractor. Members of the team met twice via Zoom since January 2021 and have had contact by email at other times. The team is coordinating the Phase 2 system upgrades and will be planning future upgrades as the hospital's master plan is developed. At the beginning of the year, the team re-examined the equipment planned for Phase 2 of the project. These discussions led the team to recommend a containerized system with more efficient and longer-lasting Lithium-ion batteries instead of lead acid batteries. Further, the containerized system will be centrally located making management easier and providing controlled temperatures that will optimize battery efficiency. The original plan would have added separate installations scattered around the institution. Fortunately, Corteva’s $30,000 gift will allow us to make these changes and to expand the original equipment proposed for Phase 2. The net effect of these modifications will be to increase the use of solar power in the hospital during the day and at night. We anticipate:

  • that an increase in battery storage by 30kWH will allow usage of solar power by parts of the hospital at night.
  • that an increase of 75 more solar panels with additional charge controllers will add 24kW to the existing system and will allow more areas of the current hospital, including the maternity ward, to be added to the system. Some of the departments will be supplied entirely by solar power during the day.
  • that these new modifications to Phase 2 of the solar project will help prepare the baseline for a conversion to the 3Phase electrical system envisioned by the master plan. 

The new equipment is currently on order from suppliers. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting both the production of the equipment and its delivery to Zambia. Some components of the system must be custom ordered to meet the special requirements of the Mwandi hospital’s facilities, increasing production time. After the equipment has been produced, we anticipate a timeline of 4-to-6 months for delivery and installation. Delivery logistics will depend on differing degrees of lockdown or regulations required for the shipment as it makes its way from the Netherlands to Zambia.

Once again, we thank all contributors for their continued support of “Solar Project Saves Lives.”

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The first phase of our solar project continues to successfully supply power to the main hospital building at the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) Mwandi Mission, even during the rainy season. Thanks to the generosity of our GlobalGiving donors, we have now raised  funds enabling us to upgrade the current system to Phase 2 and to produce three times as much solar-generated power as is currently produced. The upgrade will be a customized containerized solution that will include more solar panels, more battery storage, and an additional inverter. The tripled production of solar-generated power will expand the number of areas in the current hospital complex that receive solar power, including the maternity facilities.

Because of delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we don’t have a definite completion date for the expanded and updated solar system, but we hope to have all components in place by 3rd Quarter of 2021.

We thank you for your continued support of “Solar Project Saves Lives.”

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Phase 1 of our solar project continues to successfully supply power to the main hospital building at the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) Mwandi Mission. Since the system was installed, 76% of the power it produced has been directly used by the hospital and 24% has gone to storage in solar batteries. In the last year, solar power produced 13201.43 kWH and was consumed by the main hospital building. Graphs of the 2020 solar power usage (to date) are attached with this report.

Moving to Phase 2 of the solar project was delayed until a master plan for the entire hospital compound was completed and approved by the American Partners, the hospital’s local board, and UCZ. The master plan was completed in the last month and has been approved by the local board. The architect, Paul Ndhlovu, and the American Partners’ project director, Lawrence Kamba, will present the plan to the American Partners at our November 14th board of directors meeting. UCZ will also be reviewing the plan in the near future. The American Partners are excited about fund-raising to help complete this master plan. While it will take a number of years to achieve all of the goals of the plan, we are pleased that solar power will be incorporated throughout all facilities. By engaging in a stepwise progression to build-out the master plan, we hope to eventually achieve complete independence from Zambia’s national electric company, ZESCO. As soon as all constituents approve the master plan, the American Partners are ready to start Phase 2 of the solar project. A 3-D illustration of the proposed hospital complex is attached to this report. The new construction is shown in red.

We thank you for your continued support of “Solar Project Saves Lives.” We are excited to announce that we will participate in GlobalGiving’s “Move A Million” campaign on Giving Tuesday, December 1, 2020. With $1 million USD in funding available from @GlobalGiving, there’s never been a better time to support “Solar Project Saves Lives.” Even better, the more you give, the more we get! It’s almost time to #MoveAMillion! Look for emails from the American Partners’ board members to give you more details on the “Move a Million” campaign. This opportunity allows us to benefit even more from your generosity. Thanks in advance for helping us on Giving Tuesday!!

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In May 2020, the Mwandi hospital was designated as the COVID-19 Center for its district in Zambia. The added costs of care for each COVID-19 patient is projected to be 80% over the hospital's current costs for non-COVID patients. These increased costs cannot be absorbed by the hospital’s operating budget for a number of reasons, including the fact that the national electric company, ZESCO, raised the costs of its power by 100% earlier this year. 

In the last two years, Phase 1 of our solar project reduced the hospital's use of ZESCO power in its main building by 16,716.28 kWH (a 70% decrease compared to usage before Phase 1). However, the cost savings accomplished by the reduction in this one building will be minimized by the 100% increase in charges for the ZESCO power utilized by the hospital's other buildings. In addition, monthly operating grants given by the Zambian government to hospitals around the country, including Mwandi, are increasingly unreliable. Moving forward with Phase 2 of our solar project is becoming more and more urgent!!

We are in the process of completing a comprehensive master plan for the entire hospital compound. In addition to expanding hospital wards and other facilities to serve the growing number of patients, the plan includes provision of solar power for all new and existing areas within the facility. We hope to move forward quickly with Phase 2 of the solar project as soon as the master plan is approved.

As always, we appreciate your support of our solar project. We hope that you will continue to help us increase the hospital's solar capabilities so that the healthcare needs in this community will be met.

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Previously, we reported that the power generated by Mwandi hospital’s pilot solar project was supplying 56% of the electicity used in the main hospital building. This building is the only area within the hospital facility currently connected to the solar system. Three months later, we can report that a daily average of 68% of the main hospital building’s electricity comes from solar power (either directly from the solar panels or from the solar batteries). We are delighted with this news and feel that the expansion of solar power to all areas of the hospital is justified.

Additionally, investment in solar power for the hospital is now a critical need because of increases in the costs of the electricity produced by the Zambia Electricity Supply Company (ZESCO). In December as a result of drought conditions in Zambia, ZESCO increased tariffs on the power it produces by an average of 100% across the country. The increase in ZESCO tariffs were reflected in the hospital’s January 2020 ZESCO bill, which increased by 80% compared to the December bill. As a result of the very large increase in ZESCO tariffs, the cost-savings that the hospital gains from the pilot solar project is significantly diminished.

For all of the reasons outline above, it is imperative for the American Partners to accelerate Phase II of the solar project. We hope that all of our wonderful donors will continue to help us expand the solar capabilities of the Mwandi hospital. With your help we can decrease our dependence on ZESCO by generating more of our own dependable and cost-effective electricity. Meeting this goal will insure that the Mwandi hospital's patients will have access to reliable, quality healthcare delivery.

We appreciate all you have done for the Mwandi hospital and hope that you will join with us as we strive to meet the current challenges facing the hospital.

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Organization Information

UCZ Mwandi Mission Hospital American Partners

Location: Blowing Rock, NC - USA
Project Leader:
Verna Case
Blowing Rock, NC United States
$73,328 raised of $100,000 goal
142 donations
$26,672 to go
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