As announced at the association meeting in June 2019, we have started the solar project with excitement. We have taken into account that the rainy season would hinder us in this large-scale project. But now the big rain has slowed down the schedule a bit. The construction work on the ground, especially the levelling and the foundation for the solar panels, could not be done last year due to the wetness.
The project timing now envisages that the ground work can begin in March and that the installation of the solar system will then be pushed ahead rapidly until June.
Project status – actual situation
With today's unreliable energy supply, the basic services at Phalombe Hospital cannot be provided. Power outages are becoming increasingly regular and last several hours a day. ESCOM′s national power grid cannot provide reliable hydroelectric power. Climate change and increasingly low water levels exacerbate the situation. Backup by the hospital's own diesel generator is expensive and unreliable. Important life-supporting machines cannot function and therefore cost lives.
In 2019 the local hospital management and the Pro Phalombe association declare the realisation of the solar project the next priority of a future-oriented infrastructure optimisation.
Advantages of photovoltaic (PV)-technology
- Photovoltaic technology is cost-effective and reliable.
- The solar system is intended to replace the ESCOM grid, thus reducing the daily load.
- The solar system saves about US$ 55'000 annually, which was previously spent on electricity and generator costs.
- The first operational priority is solar power and ESCOM, solar power and battery the second, only battery the third (at night). Generators are only used at night as last resort.
- Used as a way out when the batteries are empty and power from ESCOM is not available.
- The batteries allow a mains-independent operation without ESCOM, generators or sunlight for 8 to 15 hours.
- The system design allows flexible expansion and integration of more battery storage. This increases the availability of energy and reduces generator operation.
- The SCADA system (supervisory control and data acquisition) enables remote monitoring for reliable operation.
- Energy-saving LED lighting is installed and old devices with poor efficiency are upgraded to reduce the total load.
- Lifetime of the system: 20 years photovoltaic system and 10 years batteries
- PV capacity (DC) 60 kWp
- Inverter output (AC) 50 kW
- Battery capacity (usable) 105 kWh
- Battery backup time 13 kW for 8 hours
- Depth of discharge 100%
- Guarantee period 3600 Full Cycles
- Expected life cycle 10+ years