Category Archives: enershelf news

Green, Yellow, and Red – How a Traffic Light System Could Guide the Users at the Health Facilities in Ghana

Interview with Steven Denk from WestfalenWIND, project leader of EnerSHelF’s work package 2. He explains the importance of an easy and accessible communication to guide the users of the PV solar system at the three health facilities.

Work package 2 aims to promote user acceptance and sustainability of context-specific and marketable PV-based energy solutions. What does this mean in the local context of Ghana, can you explain?

This means that we will try to create an understanding of electricity generation and consumption among the local population that gets in touch with the system. To achieve this, we will choose a simple graphical display, which will guide the users to ensure the optimal usage of solar power in a comprehensible way.

One of our ideas is to base it on a traffic light system, which displays all available information, bundled as a result in three distinguished recommendations for action:

Red – it is best to reduce consumption as much as possible.
Yellow – please evaluate what is really needed.
Green – you are now welcome to consume (without hesitation).

Based on regular reports, the system will be optimized constantly to increase the comprehensibility of energy generation and consumption.

How do you address this, what activities have been implemented?

Due to the Covid19 pandemic, no activities have been carried out in the field so far. While the technical equipment has been shipped to Ghana, its installation must be completed before further steps are undertaken. 

However, we are already in the developing process regarding the graphical display. Simple and understandable communication is key to ensure the optimal utilization. By doing so, we hope to reach the local population and encourage them to transfer the experiences and understanding of the EnerSHelF project to their private lives.

What are the results so far, and the next steps?

As mentioned before, we are in the process of preparing the system and all technical devices. This will take a while longer before preliminary results are available.


Steven Denk is a trained banker and has started working for WestfalenWIND in 2015. He is the project leader for the sector of renewable energies, especially the projecting and implementation of wind farms in Ostwestfalen-Lippe. Since 2018, he is working as the business developer of the newly implemented department WestfalenWIND Beyond. The focus of the department is to develop clean, reliable and sustainable energy supply in developing and emerging countries by transferring knowledge and providing up-front investment for energy solutions. They acknowledge their key role as a private actor to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by investing in innovative initiatives to foster sustainable development and green growth.

How the EnerSHelF Project Aims to Promote Market-based PV Energy Solutions in the Ghanaian Health Sector

Interview with Prof. Dr. Katja Bender and Callistus Agbaam from Bonn-Rhine-Sieg University of Applied Sciences. They explain, how work package 1 examines the Ghanaian political economy structure to understand processes that support or hamper the sustainable energy transition in the health and energy sectors.

Work package 1 aims to examine the political economy of a sustainable energy transition in the Ghanaian health sector. What are the specific aims of your work package?

The specific aim of work package 1 (WP 1) is twofold. First, at the national level, we aim to analyze the political economy structures that hinder or facilitate institutional change towards a sustainable energy transition in the health and energy sectors. By this, we seek to identify key decision makers or coalitions of change agents and the corresponding decision-making processes or their influencing factors, which have led to the emergence of the current institutional status quo.

Second, at the market level, we seek to analyse the factors that have impact on the decision-making behaviour of market actors in terms of the demand (adoption/non-adoption) and supply

(provision/non-provision) of PV solutions in Ghana with respect to current technological advancement and the prevailing institutional framework. Thus, we seek to understand the factors that influence technological change from the perspective of health facility decision makers as well as enterprises and businesses.

In pursuing this line of research, we ultimately aim to contribute to the development of context-specific options and policy recommendations to strengthen governance structures and promote the dissemination of market-based PV energy solutions in the Ghanaian health sector.

How do you address these, what activities have you planned or already started?

To address these goals, we conduct two separate studies. One focuses on the national level (WP 1.1) while the other is centered on the market level (WP 1.2). For both studies, we structure our activities into four main stages. During the first stage, we conduct a comprehensive review of the relevant scientific literature and subsequently develop a conceptual model for the study. During the second stage, we develop data collection tools and conduct in-country data collection exercises – both qualitative and quantitative – in Ghana. Upon completion of the data collection, the third stage consists of analyzing the collected data. During the final stage, the team predominantly focuses on developing working papers based on the results of the data analysis.

Presently, we have completed the activities for stage one and are mid-way through those planned for stage two. Although the data collection tools have been developed, the empirical data collection exercise in Ghana cannot take place at the moment due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, it has been duly postponed to a later date.

What are the results so far, and the next steps?

So far, we have achieved several milestones for WP 1. Regarding WP 1.1, a review of both theoretical and empirical literature on the political economy of sustainable energy transitions has been conducted. Moreover, a research paper on “The Political Economy of Sustainable Energy Transition: A State-of-the-Art Review” is currently being developed. In addition, a conceptual model based on an actor-oriented approach embedded in game theory has been developed to enable an analysis of the factors influencing institutional change at the national level from an economics perspective. Furthermore, qualitative data collection tools have been developed and are continuously being reviewed.

For WP 1.2, relevant scientific literature has been reviewed and a first draft of a state-of-the-art research paper on “The Impact of Photovoltaic Technology Diffusion in Developing Countries”, is currently developed. Moreover, a conceptual model for the market level study has been developed, building on theories such as the Theory of Planned Behaviour and the Theory of Reasoned Action. Additionally, the quantitative survey tool (questionnaires) has been developed and the software for data collection duly procured.

Another achievement for the overall EnerSHelF project has been the approval of the project and related fieldwork by the Ghana Health Service Ethical Review Committee (GHS-ERC). This “Ethical Clearance” enables all project partners with activities in Ghana to conduct their fieldwork at health facilities in line with standard practice.

Regarding our next steps, we hope to be able to proceed with the qualitative and quantitative data collection in Ghana as soon as the Covid-19 situation improves, and the travel restrictions have been lifted. Generally, we anticipate that the data collection activities will suffer significant delays due to the current situation. However, we keep our fingers crossed and hope that the situation returns to normal soon.


Katja Bender is a development economist and professor for Economics, in particular Economic and Social Development Bonn-Rhine-Sieg University of Applied Sciences (BRSU). She is co-director of the International Centre for Sustainable Development (IZNE) and head of the international MBA-program ‘Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and NGO Management’. In 2017 she has been appointed Vice-President of the European Association for Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI).  Her main research interests include the political economy of social protection and health systems development, interactions between institutional change and the diffusion of technologies (focus: photovoltaics; ‘digital health’) as well as understanding preferences for research-practice collaborations. Her working experience includes several Asian and African countries.

Callistus Agbaam is a Research Fellow at the International Centre for Sustainable Development (IZNE), Bonn-Rhine-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, Sankt Augustin. He is also in the final stages of his PhD studies in International Development at Ruhr University Bochum. He holds two masters degrees: M.A. in Development Studies from University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa and M.A. in Development Management from the Institute of Development Research and Development Policy, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany. His research interest includes social protection, poverty and health equity, political economy, sustainability and inclusive development.

‘Off-grid and On-grid Solutions not only for Healthcare Facilities but also for Surrounding Communities’

Interview with Dr. Catherina Cader and Dr. Philipp Blechinger from Reiner Lemoine Institute. They explain how work package 3.4 of the EnerSHelF project develops a cost-effective electrification strategy to implement PV-hybrid systems for the health care facilities and surrounding communities.

Work package 3 aims to improve the country- and sector-based forecast of solar power generation (PV) and consumption (health facilities). What is the specific aim of your work package “Development of an electrification strategy for medical institutions”?

In our work package, we develop a data-driven nationwide market introduction strategy of PV-hybrid systems for health care facilities and surrounding communities in Ghana. For the derivation of the strategy, infrastructure data and spatially resolved socio-economic data in combination with irradiation data will be used. Thereby, a technical-economic evaluation allows an assessment of the market potential for PV-hybrid systems in the Ghanaian health care facilities. Finally, the results will be used to develop a comprehensive, cost-effective electrification strategy that considers off-grid and on-grid solutions not only for healthcare facilities but also for surrounding communities.

How do you address this, what activities have you planned?

Starting with a GIS (Geographic Information System) data analysis, we will conduct a pre-feasibility analysis based on a simplified dimensioning algorithm for PV-hybrid systems. This results in the development of an electrification strategy composed of six working steps:

1. We use remote sensing to identify communities in the vicinity of the health facilities.

2. With the help of household surveys, we analyze the socio-economic status of the identified communities to determine load profiles.

3. We conduct an infrastructure analysis to identify existing electricity grids and power plants in the in the investigated study area.

4. We model off-grid PV-battery diesel systems to cover the load of the surrounding communities of the health stations to determine cost structures, system sizes and added value for the communities.

5. As a comparative path, the connections of the health facilities and the surrounding communities to the central power grid is modelled. The costs of the connections are simulated, and it is determined whether the off-grid infrastructure can support the existing grid.

6. Finally, the results are visualized with the help of a web map.

What are the results so far, and the next steps?

Since this work package is first going to be kickstarted in September, there are no results available yet. Over the next weeks, a more detailed plan is worked out for the second half of 2020.


Catherina Cader is leading the research at Reiner Lemoine Institute for the EnerSHelF project. She is an expert in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and rural electrification planning. She has been working at Reiner Lemoine Institute since 2012 and is the Deputy Head of the Research Unit Off-Grid Systems since January 2020. Catherina Cader holds a PhD in Geography from Justus Liebig University Giessen and a M.Sc. in Geography from Philipps University Marburg. She is particularly interested in rural electrification planning in countries of the Global South with consideration of renewable energy. By developing and applying GIS-based methods, she brings the spatial component into RLI research and the EnerSHelF project using open source software.

Philipp Blechinger is the project leader for EnerSHelF at Reiner Lemoine Institute. Currently, he is heading the Off-Grid Systems Research Unit and develops and manages projects and strategic processes. He holds a PhD in engineering about “Barriers to implementing renewable energies on Caribbean islands” from TU Berlin, where he previously studied business and engineering. Philipp Blechinger is an international expert in island energy supply and rural electrification, specifying on simulating and optimizing hybrid mini-grids and electrification planning. In 2019, Philipp was appointed Visiting Scholar in the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) of the University of California, Berkeley as part of the C-BEAR+ project.

How Meteorological Data is used in the EnerSHelF Project

Interview with Prof. Harald Kunstmann and Dr. Windmanadga Sawadogo from University of Augsburg. They explain, how work package 3.2 uses the analysis of meteorological data to select the best configuration for the solar power generation at the three selected health facilties.

Work package 3 aims to improve the country- and sector-based forecast of solar power generation (PV) and consumption (health facilities). What is the specific aim of your work package “High resolution energy meteorological forecasts for Ghana”?

Our working group aims to forecast the key meteorological variables for solar power generation and consumption at the field sites. That includes for instance solar irradiation and air temperature.

How do you address this, what activities have you already started to implement the necessary measurements?

We will set up an operational high spatial resolution energy-meteorological forecast (up to 4 km) for Ghana by using the numerical weather prediction model WRF-Solar. The lead time of the forecasted variables will be 48 hours and the collected data will be used to optimize the efficiency of the PV hybrid systems at the health facilities included in the project.

We have already set-up the WRF-Solar domain for Ghana and finalized a first 13-months test simulation (December 2016 – December 2017). Additionally, we complement the WRF-solar simulation with hourly data on atmospheric, land and oceanic climate variables from the ERA5 dataset provided by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). In total we will run a set of five simulations for the 13-months test-run by changing the respective WRF-Solar scheme for the description of shortwave radiation physics. By doing so, we aim to select the best configuration for the studied domain.

What are the results so far, and the next steps?

So far, we are still running the WRF-Solar simulations. The next step will be the comparison of the output variables such as global horizontal irradiance and air temperature with other external data. This includes Ghana meteorological weather station data, WASCAL weather station data, and satellite data. In addition, we will process and evaluate a climatology (up to 30 years) of global horizontal irradiance and air temperature in Ghana. 


Harald Kunstmann is a professor and holder of the chair for regional climate and hydrology at the University of Augsburg in joint appointment with the KIT campus Alpin, Garmisch-Partenkirchen. He studied physics in Marburg, Virgina/USA, and Heidelberg before getting his PhD. in Natural Environmental Sciences from ETH, Zürich. In 2001, he started as the head of the research group Regional Climate and Hydrology at the KIT-Campus Alpin before being appointed as the head of the Regional Climate Systems Department in 2004. In 2018, he was invited as an Honorary Research Associate to the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford University. His research focuses on the impact of regional climate change on terrestrial hydrology. It comprises dynamic and statistical downscaling of meteorological fields, fully coupled and cross-compartmental regional atmospheric and hydrological modelling, modelling and observation of water and energy flows, the application of Commercial Microwave Links (CMLs) for precipitation determination as well as geostatistic merging of hydrometeorological variables.

Windmanadga Sawadogo is a research associate at the chair of Regional Climate and Hydrology at the University of Augsburg. He holds a PhD. in Meteorology and Climate Science from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and a M.Sc. in Climate Change and Energy from the University of Abdou Moumouni, Niamey, Niger. From 2017 – 2019, he was a visiting scholar at the Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG) at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. His research foci are meteorology, climate science, solar energy, wind energy, and regional climate models.

A Visualization of EnerSHelF’s Work Packages and Involved Partners

The EnerSHelF project is an interdisciplinary research group with multiple partners in academia and industry – highlighting the complexity of its underlying processes. This complexity ensures the coverage of technical, economic and political questions sufficiently and equivalently. We created the graph below to show you the different work packages (WP) and partners which are included in the EnerSHelf project. You can find a detailed description of each partner here. During the upcoming weeks, we are going to present each work package with an initial interview to highlight and introduce each groups’ research foci.

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