PV Systems for Rural Health Facilities in Developing Areas, A completion of lessons learned

In the context of rapidly increasing price and the intermittent supply of fossil fuel, photovoltaic (PV) systems are an alternative energy supply option for rural health facilities in developing areas. Numerous PV system projects have been installed in health facilities in the past, and are mainly used to power vaccine refrigerators and lights. Nevertheless, the sustainability factors have not been considered sufficiently in many cases, due to improper system design, battery misuse, and under-estimation of the daily load.

The working group of the Photovoltaic Power Systems Program of the International Energy Agency (IEA PVPS) focusing on the "Deployment of PV services for Regional Development" has published this new study:

PV Systems for Rural Health Facilities in Developing Areas, A completion of lessons learned

The publication is a technical overview towards deployment of PV systems for rural health facilities in developing areas. The demand and supply of energy in health facilities is analysed, and international standards are presented. Technical and economic aspects of different power generation options are discussed. In small off-grid health facilities, where the daily load is low, experience shows that autonomous PV systems are considered to be the best energy option. However, for medium and large facilities, where the daily load is high, hybrid systems (e.g. PV with diesel generators) are likely to be the most economic and reliable power option. Lessons learned from field activities recommend installing a separate PV system only for vaccine refrigerator powering.

Regulatory frameworks, institutional frameworks and business models are considered to be the main framework towards successful PV supply programs for health facilities.

Lessons learned from past projects also show that the sustainability of PV systems requires consideration of technology aspects, capacity building, operation and maintenance. With PV systems for rural health facilities, the installation itself is often less a challenge than it is to establish sustainable financing for system maintenance and spare parts replacement.