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 COVID-19  Zambia Project #40870

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

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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Phase I solar panels on hospital roof
Phase I solar panels on hospital roof

In our original description of Solar Project Saves Lives, we discussed factors that make the solar power project at the Mwandi hospital especially crucial for the health of its patients. Two very important factors are the:

  1. Recurring drought conditions that limit the production of hydroelectric power and force power outages (load-shedding) by the national power company, ZESCO (Zambia Electricity Supply Company), and
  2. Rising costs of the power produced by ZESCO.

The 2019 drought in Zambia is the worst in 40 years. As a result, ZESCO is imposing mandatory power outages (up to 18 hours per day) in many areas of the country and is increasing its tariffs on electricity by 75-100%. Given recent history, Zambia's current environmental crisis will probably not be its last. For these reasons, the use of alternative sources of power is imperative, especially for healthcare institutions. During recent load-shedding, some hospitals have been limited to four hours of power each day. Thankfully, Phase I of the Mwandi hospital’s solar project was completed in 2018 and the main hospital building now gets 56% of its power from the installed solar panels. [The first graph illustrates one day's consumption of power from each of three sources - solar panels, solar batteries, and ZESCO. The second graphic is a snapshot of power generated by solar panels at 11 in the morning.] Because of the supplemental solar power, general care of ward patients has not been severely affected by ZESCO outages. The success of Phase I demonstrates that solar power is a reliable alternative to hydroelectric power in Western Zambia. The hospital will now proceed with Phase II of the solar project so that patient care in all areas of the hospital will benefit. 

The first step in Phase II will begin in 2020. This step will add a second identical system to the Phase I system now supplying the main hospital building. [See the attached pictures of the Phase I solar panels and batteries that will be duplicated.] By adding a duplicate system, the generated solar power will be doubled. With both the original and duplicate systems supplying solar power, 100% of the electricity needs of the main hospital building will be met. 

Thereafter, a stepwise progression of the project will continue until solar power is supplied to the entire hospital compound. The solar engineers also predict that the completed solar project will produce more electricity than will be needed for hospital functions. The hospital will be able to sell the excess power to ZESCO and use the income to purchase drugs and other consumables that are now in short supply. 

With your support, solar power will continue to improve patient care in Mwandi, Zambia in many foreseen and unforeseen ways. We thank you for your generous contributions!

Another view of solar panels
Another view of solar panels
Solar batteries
Solar batteries
Yellow = solar, blue = batteries, red = Zesco
Yellow = solar, blue = batteries, red = Zesco
Another day's snapshot of solar power use at 11hrs
Another day's snapshot of solar power use at 11hrs
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We are actively working on creating a master plan for the entire hospital compound facility. The master plan will allow us to determine the extent of solar needs for all facilities that are currently part of the hospital and those facilities which we hope to add to the complex. We are currently considering a proposal submitted to the American Partners for developing a master plan that will accommodate the health care needs of the Western Province of Zambia for the next 20 years. This master plan will allow us to expand on the current solar resources that are now supplying the main hospital building. We have seen considerable savings on the hospital's ZESCO bills since the installation of the first phase of the solar project.

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Organization Information

UCZ Mwandi Mission Hospital American Partners

Location: Blowing Rock, NC - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Verna Case
Blowing Rock, NC United States
$11,683 raised of $40,000 goal
 
33 donations
$28,317 to go
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