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
New solar panels on hospital roof
New solar panels on hospital roof

After a full year of delays in the shipping the components necessary to complete Solar Project Phase II, our contractor is pursuing alternative solutions to obtain this equipment. Rather than waiting indefinitely for the shipment from Europe, he is arranging to fly inverters from Europe to Zambia and to purchase a refurbished container and lithium batteries that are now available in Africa without decreasing system quality or increasing the costs to the American Partners. 

With the good news that Phase II completion is in sight, the contractor recently installed 75 new panels on the roof of the hospital, bringing the total number of panels on the hospital roof to 105. Pictures of the installed panels are attached to this report. Delivery of the remaining components is expected soon, and the targeted completion date is one to three months from today. 

When completed, Phase II will have added the new solar panels mentioned above, as well as new inverters that will increase the production of electricity, and lithium batteries within a containerized system that will increase the storage capacity and delivery capability of the system. Overall, Phase II will increase Phase I’s electrical production by a factor of 4. After the final installation of Phase II, up to 30% of the daily electrical power required by the existing hospital and campus could be produced by Phase I and II of the solar project. 

Many, many thanks to all our donors for your contributions and your patience through the ups and downs of this project. We hope that by the end of 2022, Phase II will be fully functional and reducing the costs of the hospital’s ZESCO bills, freeing these savings to be used directly for patient care.

Closer view of new solar panels
Closer view of new solar panels
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There is good news to report about the Solar Project! All necessary equipment for Phase 2 has been manufactured. In December, soon after our last report, the final components for the Mwandi hospital solar project were assembled in the Netherlands and packed for shipping. Unfortunately, the completed equipment has not yet been shipped from the Netherlands to Zambia. Because of COVID and its economic impacts, shipping lines have not been delivering relatively small shipments to areas that are not easily accessible. Our solar contractor is currently in the Netherlands hoping to make arrangements to ship this equipment soon. When these last critical components for Phase 2 of the solar project arrive in Mwandi, the installation will proceed without delay.

Once again, we appreciate our donors’ patience as we deal with yet another issue delaying our completion of Phase 2 of the solar project. We hope that our next report will have the good news that all equipment has been delivered to Mwandi, that it has been installed, and that it is functioning to further reduce the hospital's dependence on ZESCO power.

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Our Phase 2 solar system upgrade continues to be delayed due to pandemic supply issues. There is a global shortage of Polysilicon, a key component required for the manufacture of solar panels. Further, the batteries for our system are being made by a company in the Netherlands and this company is experiencing supply backlogs in their orders for battery components. Our solar contractor has communicated with the manufacturer and has been promised that our order will be ready by December 2021.

We appreciate our donors’ patience as we deal with supply issues that are out of our control. Thanks to all of you for providing the funding for this critical project at the Mwandi hospital. We hope that our next report will contain the good news that all equipment has been delivered to Mwandi and that it has been installed or is in the process of being installed.

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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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Organization Information

UCZ Mwandi Mission Hospital American Partners

Location: Blowing Rock, NC - USA
Project Leader:
Verna Case
Blowing Rock, NC United States
$75,328 raised of $100,000 goal
157 donations
$24,672 to go
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