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Power Up Gambia! The power of solar to improve healthcare
September 25, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Speakers: Lynn McConville, Power Up Gambia Executive Director, and Celentano, Advisory Board Member (and solar expert)
Power Up Gambia, headquartered in Philadelphia, is a non-profit organization “to improve healthcare delivery in The Gambia by providing proven, reliable and sustainable electricity through solar energy.” The Gambia is a small country in western Africa. About twice the size of Delaware, it is a narrow strip of land following the Gambia River inland from the Atlantic coast, and geographically surrounded by Senegal.
In The Gambia, there is no reliable electricity. Health clinics in the rural area operate seven days a week, 24 hours a day, but when the grid fails after night falls, the light of a candle or cell phone is simply not enough to penetrate the enveloping darkness–to deliver a baby or perform surgery.
To address this crisis, Power Up Gambia has had three major solar projects running for nearly 10 years: solar PV power systems at two hospitals, (Bwiam Hospital, known formerly as Sulayman Junkung General Hospital, and Bansang Hospital) and a Solar Suitcases project that provides small remote solar power systems to nearly 60 rural clinics throughout The Gambia. The Solar Suitcases provide clinic staff with bright lights at night for medical treatments, heart monitors for fetuses in utero, and cell phone charging during the day.
We are so pleased to have Power Up Gambia’s Executive Director, Lynn McConville, and Advisory Board member (and solar expert), Ron Celentano, at our September meeting to briefly describe the history of these projects and to explain in detail new project upgrades competed just this year.
After almost a decade of hard service, the original 12 kW solar installation at Bwiam Hospital was not able to keep up with the growing hospital energy demand during grid outages. It was time to overhaul the system–to add more solar modules and inverters to provide more power, and to replace the battery bank. The new battery bank is two large maintenance-free Aquion Energy batteries that use a salt-water technology. To add more power, the solar installation was expanded to 50 kW, with further expansion planned for near future. The entire solar power installation is grid-tied and net metered, but only part of it is dedicated for providing off-grid solar backup power during grid outages. Lynn and Ron will tell us all about these installation challenges and their experience working with a dedicated Gambian solar contractor and the committed hospital electrical maintenance staff.
MAREA meetings are free and open to the public. All are invited! The Power Up Gambia presentation is Tuesday, September 25 , at 7:00 at TEKPark (9999 Hamilton Boulevard, Breinigsville, PA 18031, between Kutztown and Allentown). After the meeting, please plan to stick around and chat with friends old and new. Light snacks will be served. Hope to see you there!