Health facilities locations for the installation of PV solar panels and measurement equipment of the project set

The EnerSHelF project foresees the installation of measurement equipment related to the use of solar PV energy in health facilities in three locations throughout the country. At this stage of the project, the locations of the three health facilities were set. The three health facilities differ in the number of beds for patients and the health service offered. Hospitals have more beds and offer more services than health centres.

The St. Michael’s Hospital and the St. Dominic Hospital are in the “Deciduous Forest” climatic zone, which is warm and humid. The Kologo Health Centre is in the “Guinea Savannah” climate zone, which is hot and dry.

The geographical distribution in different climate zones will allow the acquisition of various data during field experiments. Technical field measurements will be carried out to collect real measured profiles of electrical load and supply of facilities, as well as weather data.

To better understand the demand of health facilities in Ghana for PV energy solutions and their challenges in obtaining and maintaining reliable energy access these site specific activities will be complemented by a comprehensive survey among Ghanaian health facilities at a later stage of the project.

Locations of the three selected health facilities
© GoogleMaps
Saint Dominic Hospital

The St. Dominic Hospital – established in July 1960 – is a 357 bed capacity facility in the urban area of Akwatia. Akwatia is located in the Denkyembour District of the Eastern Region in southern Ghana and has a population of approx. 25,000 people. The existing PV system will be complemented by a load measurement system, an automatic weather station, a dust sensor, a radiation sensor with module temperature detection and a cloud camera.

Kologo Health Centre

The Kologo Health Centre is a public health centre in the Upper East Region of Ghana. It offers general health services. The facility has about 11 beds, a maternity, OPD, detention rooms, dispensary, delivery room, vaccine storage, etc. Kologo is a small, rural village 20 km south of Navrongo, near of the northern border of Ghana. A PV system will be set up, complemented by automatic weather station, a dust sensor, a radiation sensor with module temperature detection and a cloud camera at the PV system. There will be also measurement equipment for load profiles.

Saint Michael’s Hospital

The St. Michael’s Hospital – established in 1958 – is located in the small town of Pramso around 20 km in the southeast of Kumasi, the regional capital of the Ashanti Region. The hospital has 99 beds, which include medical, surgical, paediatric, maternity and opthalmic departments, with approximately 60,000 outpatients appointments each year. In addition to the services provided at the hospital, there are mobile clinics operated by the hospital that visit five outlying villages every month to bring maternal health and general medical consultations within close proximity of the communities that the hospital serves. The St. Michael’s Hospital will be equipped with an automatic weather station and a measurement device for load measurement. A PV system is already in place.

A Project on the Move: EnerSHelF

A shipment of equipment vital to the EnerSHelF project left port in Hamburg on 2 January 2020 scheduled to arrive at our project partner WASCAL located in Tema, Ghana on February 17 February 2020.

Held within the walls of the shipping container lie high tech measurement tools, that the project team will carefully set up and monitor in three project locations throughout Ghana. The equipment, which the German project partners WestfalenWind and University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhine-Sieg meticulously packed and inspected in Paderborn on the 12th of December, will allow the collection of location specific weather and energy requirement data.

Packing of the shipment container in Paderborn © Silvan Rummeny

Given the central role that weather plays in affecting the amount of power generated via PV solar panels, tools used for measuring solar-module temperature, global solar radiation and dust accumulation on the solar panels, as well as a cloud camera to track and monitor weather patterns will provide much needed data for the project. Using information received from these sources, scientists in the project will be able to create a forecast based algorithm to maximize reliability and quality and ensure optimal usage of solar panels.

Also included in the shipment is an electrical load data logger, which gathers information on the energy usage of the health facilities partaking in the project. The project team will use the data received from the data logger to develop a PV-diesel-design-tool tailored to the sector specific needs of the health facilities. This will result in a reliable and economical design and evaluation of PV-diesel-hybrid-systems. As a result, both the PV-diesel-design-tool and forecast based algorithm will contribute to helping lower black out risk, maximizing economic and ecological feasibility and ensuring the protection of health equipment requiring high quality electricity. Close cooperation between EnerSHelF partners demonstrates the benefits of interdisciplinary, international synergies and partnerships. As the shipping container makes its way to Ghanaian partners, the project team will continue striving towards practical and ecological energy solutions for Ghanaian health facilities.

EnerSHelF partners from WestfalenWind, Technische Hochschule Köln and University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhine-Sieg convene in Paderborn
© Silvan Rummeny

Inception Week

EnerSHelF kicks off with a rewarding meeting of partners in Accra, Ghana

Constructive conversation, new perspectives, and enriching encounters – the first meeting of minds between the partners of EnerSHelF proved to be fruitful for everyone.

Representatives of the 11 partners of the EnerSHelF project convened in the Ghanaian capital of Accra for three days of intensive exchange and joint learning. Following a warm introduction, thematic teams jumped into planning sessions, ranging from the implementation of field experiments in different geographical areas to issues of market strategy & transfer and political economy.

The benefit of having an interdisciplinary approach to the energy project became clear during discussions; each group comes with its own individual strengths and specializations. In conclusion of the workshop, groups reconvened to create a joint strategy on managing cooperation and ensure a joint approach throughout the project.

The remaining time of the inception week brought EnerSHelF members into the field for guided tours of the hospitals scheduled to implement PV based energy solutions. The excursion proved helpful for partners in gaining insights from local Ghanaian health professionals and understanding the context in which the project is to be implemented.

Given the success of the inception week, plans are already underway for future meetings to facilitate cooperation and knowledge transfer.

EnerSHelF partners convene in Accra, Ghana for inception week


Africa’s Energy Revolution

Sub-Saharan Africa is a region of vast opportunity and potential. With African energy demand predicted to grow twice as fast as the global average over the next two decades, Africa faces unique challenges in meeting this demand (International Energy Agency (IEA), 2019).

The growing weight of Africa’s energy needs are often felt when electricity consumption surpasses supply, leading to blackouts hampering production. These outages, also called “dumsor” in Ghana have become a familiar occurrence for many Africans, as they grapple without access to power for several hours daily.

In Search of High-Powered Solutions

In Ghana, these occurrences pose a severe burden to the healthcare sector, as for example, the cold chain for required vaccines and blood supply may be cut, the light in the operating room may go out or life-saving medical equipment may fail. With the continent having the richest solar resources on the planet, photovoltaic (PV) power, which harnesses energy from sunlight, could be the driver of future energy growth.

However, the PV market in Ghana requires further expansion and innovation, if it is to keep pace with the country’s accelerating demand for energy. According to the World Bank, only 3% of the population can currently access PV power through off-grid systems in West Africa and the Sahel (World Bank, 2017). Innovative solutions are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy and health access.

Photo Credit: Axel Fassio, CIFOR

EnerSHelF: A Ray of Sunlight for the Health Sector

The German-Ghanaian joint project Energy-Self-Sufficiency for Health Facilities in Ghana (EnerSHelf) aims to address this; experts from academia and industry work together on both technical, economic and political questions to improve and disseminate marketable PV based energy solutions for health facilities in Ghana.

What distinguishes the approach of EnerSHelF is its interdisciplinary and context specific design, which takes into account a broad array of factors to allow for successive cross-sectoral and regional leveraging of solutions put forward by the project. The engineering expertise of EnerSHelF will address the technical optimization of PV solutions in Ghana and see the installation of PV solar panels in health facilities in various locations throughout the region. Solar panels will draw energy from the sun’s rays to create an independent, on site source of electricity. In doing so, reliance on the unstable energy grid and on diesel generators will be diminished, strengthening health care and the sustainability of the national energy system.

Economists will address the feasibility of PV based energy solutions from a political-economic perspective and will determine barriers and drivers of change towards a sustainable energy transition. Identifying stakeholders and change agents will also facilitate the transfer of knowledge and the use of sustainable market-based PV energy solutions. Additionally, the creation of a framework of stakeholder engagement, transfer and dissemination in which the technologies and their adoption are tailored to local factors will enable context specific, use of PV energy solutions and so help in energizing Africa’s future.

Installed PV modules, St. Dominic’s Hospital Akwatia, Ghana © Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, EnerSHelf Projekt

Contributing to a Sustainable Future

As an important catalyst for sustainable development, access to a reliable source of clean energy is vital for inclusive economic development, improved human health, wellbeing and security. As such, EnerSHelF can contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of health (SDG 3), energy (SDG 7) and partnerships (SDG 17). Success of the project will not only contribute to sustainably energizing health facilities in Ghana, but also help reduce global CO2 emissions and identify important variables in the implementation of the PV power model in other regions and sectors.