• Eastern Africa
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Case study 17 September, 2020 Battery / Energy StorageSolar PV Health Micro/Mini-grid

Phaesun GmbH – 14.4 kWp Solar PV Off-grid Connect System (Eritrea)

Who, What & Where

  • DRE project developer: Phaesun GmbH
  • Funding partner: Archemed (NGO)
  • Customer: Orotta Hospital
  • Beneficiaries: Orotta Hospital and surrounding communities.

The Company

Phaesun has been specialising in the sale, service and installation of off-grid photovoltaic and wind power systems since the foundation in 2001. As one of the world’s leading system integrators of off-grid energy systems, Phaesun offers products of all reputable manufacturers of this trade. International project management, purposeful training courses for customers and technical support complete the range of services offered.

The headquarters of Phaesun GmbH are based in Memmingen/Germany. The Phaesun Group now has subsidiaries and sales offices in Europe, Africa and Latin America. Therefore Phaesun contributes to the sustainable electricity supply in the target regions of Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

The Challenge

The electricity grid in Eritrea is poorly developed. Even the electricity users in the capital Asmara suffer from power cuts that can last from some seconds up to several hours or even days. In the past, the Orotta Hospital often struggled with power blackouts. The part of the hospital that deals with children’s pediatric cardial surgery and neonatology is specifically sensitive to power failure and therefore a sustainable solution was needed to keep all activities of the hospital running day and night. The existing diesel backup generator was unreliable due to fuel shortage and the need for frequent maintenance. Project implementation went smoothly as Archemed, the funding partner for the project, is well established in Eritrea.

Renewable Solution

Solar resources and therefore PV systems in Eritrea are extremely favourable. An offgrid connected system, comprising of a PV solution backed up by the grid and an extra diesel generator, was selected as an ideal solution to ensure the reliable power supply of the most important electrical loads in the hospital. The total daily energy demand and peak power of the department was identified (42 kW peak load and 20 kW continuous critical loads for three hours, which is 60 kWh of critical demand for three hours). The system was then designed to provide 60 kWh daily production from solar PV and a battery storage of four hours for the critical 20 kW loads at 80% maximum depth of discharge. The inverter charger was designed to provide the 42 kW peak load. That way, the system can provide around seven hours of power during the day, without grid or diesel generator and four hours without sun, thus providing a reliable power supply during critical hours.

The off-grid connected system bridges power blackouts with a battery bank (124 kWh storage capacity, OPzV), which is additionally fed with a 14.4 kWp PV generator (72 x 200 W/24 V monocrystalline solar modules), supplying the most important consumers without interruption.

For the power management, high quality electronics from the Swiss manufacturer Studer were used. Three Studer VarioTrack 80 MPPT charge controllers, six inverter/ chargers Studer XTH 8000 and a remote control ensure a reliable energy management. The installation and commissioning was done by a local company in collaboration with the MoH’s technical staff members, who oversaw all solar installations in the country. Therefore, regular maintenance was arranged by the MoH Technical Department — since there are many rural health centres and hospitals that run by solar energy, the Ministry has a dedicated Technical Department who installs and maintains these solar systems.

Project Financing and Costs

The total project budget including material, installation and transport was EUR 75,000, which was financed with donations from Archemed. The MoH owns the system and has the responsibility to operate and maintain it. As an NGO, Archemed supports the hospital in different ways (i.e. sending doctors for short-time emergency periods and medical materials). Archemed was involved in the installation of the system with a technician, as they were doing other technical stuff at the hospital as well. After the installation, Archemed handed over the system to the MoH, who is the official owner and who is also in charge of maintenance with its technical team. The technicians employed by MoH are experienced in operating and managing rural health care facilities powered by solar systems.

Project Outcome

The Orotta Hospital is the largest one in the country and acts as the central referral hospital. The result was a secure and uninterruptible power supply for the two wards. The system has now been running since December 2014. After the installation of the DRE system, the hospital can operate round the clock and doctors can provide essential health services without having to worry about a possible interruption in the middle of an operation.

Next Steps

Integrating the solar power system with the existing electrical installation of the hospital was a technical challenge at the beginning. Nevertheless, local Phaesun technicians managed to separate the critical loads and make them independent when powered by solar, while still being part of the system during the ‘normal’ operation of the grid.