GRID Alternatives' vision is a successful transition to clean, renewable energy that includes everyone. Our mission is to make renewable energy technology and job training accessible to underserved communities.
The national grid had not yet arrived to the Sinja Rural Municipalty of Jumla, where the Miteri Birthing Centre is located. Action Works Nepal constructed the centre, which was finished in spring 2019. Despite having staff available to work at the facility and medical equipment ready to use, the lack of electricity access meant that the equipment could not be used. Action Works Nepal approached GRID Alternatives to develop a solar project to cover the centre’s 8.02 kWh daily load needs.
The 3.19 kWp battery-based solar PV system now provides the facility with adequate electricity to cover the electric load necessary for operations. The system has powered lighting and a heater for the facility, a refrigerator for vaccines, medical testing equipment and a warming bed for newborn babies. During the installation, the ward chairperson and his son were trained in the general operations and maintenance (O&M) of the system, so that they were able to conduct basic maintenance tasks. The solar PV system is made up of the following components:
The total cost of the project was EUR 22,300, provided by individual donors to buy the equipment and pay for installation, through a crowdfunding campaign managed by GRID Alternatives. The centre, as well as the solar PV system on its roof, is owned by Action Works Nepal for the first two years of operation. After that point, ownership and fiscal responsibility will be passed on to the municipality. The solar PV system produces enough electricity to power the equipment in the centre free of charge.
In case of an issue, GRID Alternative’s partner Gham Power provides free maintenance for the first two years after installation. Then, the Municipality has committed to provide the financial resources necessary for the centre’s O&M, while GRID Alternatives will provide technical assistance throughout the whole lifetime of the project. Additionally, GRID Alternatives has a long-term commitment to all of its projects and conducts biannual site visits to ensure the proper operation of the systems.
The electrified centre provides improved maternal and postnatal care for about 250 households. The centre also provides general health care to approximately 1,250 residents of the village and surrounding areas. Furthermore, the installation served as a hands-on training opportunity in solar installation for nine women who participated in the installation. These women gained practical skills which they can now use to find a job in the solar energy industry or a related field. The centre employs a midwife who provides maternal and postnatal care for the women and children. These clinics are the closest source of health care services for the villagers of Jumla, as hospitals and larger clinics are far away. The remote health clinics provide important maternal and postnatal care that village women would otherwise not be able to access at at all. Furthermore, it is estimated that the solar PV system offsets 1.46 tonnes of CO2 per year, compared to an scenario where the centre would be hooked up to the national grid or a diesel generator.
The project was an overall success, as it accomplished its main goal of improving the health services provided by the health centre. A key success factor has been that the centre is being fully funded and staffed for the first two years by Action Works Nepal and will subsequently be so by the municipality. If the centre had not been funded nor staffed, the ability to plug in medical equipment would have been in vain without staff to provide health services. A core challenge of working with a new centre meant that some of the medical equipment that the centre should have had from the beginning was delayed. Therefore, the system was not taken full advantage of until a few months later.
The project can be replicated and GRID Alternatives has a goal of electrifying all the Jumla health clinics that currently lack access to energy.