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Technology provider: Studer Innotec SA
DRE & installer project developer: COANTEC
Designer & provider partner: HEMEVA S.A.S
Funding authority: Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Customer: Plan Fronteras » Project beneficiary: The Paraíso Medical Centre and the Wayúu community
Studer Innotec is a manufacturer of inverters and MPPT solar charge controllers for off grid and solar hybrid systems.
Plan Fronteras is a programme developed by the Colombian Government to carry out socio-economic development projects in the areas along the borders of the country. The main activities of the programme evolve around the provision of electricity supply projects with renewable energy for schools and medical centres in difficult contexts due to both their remoteness and poor access to electricity. The Paraíso Medical Centre, located in Alta Guajira and bordering Venezuela, provides medical care to the Wayuú community, comprising about 200 families. In this region, medical centres are very distant, the closest one being a four hours drive away. The Paraíso Medical Centre provides general consultations, postnatal care and first aid services to the members of the community. The health centre was stocked with medical equipment that could only be used for a limited period of time throughout the day, as the facility only had power for three hours at night, provided by a diesel generator. One of the key challenges for Studer Innotec to guarantee the long-term sustainability of the project was engaging with the local community, whose members were sceptical of aid projects as previous projects were not all finished. A second barrier was the remoteness of the site, which is very difficult to reach, especially during the rainy season.
With a 960 Wp solar generator and a 750 Ah/24 Vdc battery bank, sufficient power is supplied to connect the main medical equipment such as vital signs monitors, a vacuum, an EGC machine and consultation equipment such as a laptop and a printer as well as lighting, ventilation and a small refrigerator.
The components that make up the system are:
The project was designed and installed by COANTEC. The users are the Paraiso Medical Centre and the Wayuú community. During the warranty period, COANTEC is responsible to solve any system malfunctioning and replace its technical components. Additionally, two people from the community were trained on basic maintenance tasks and reporting in case of system failure. Once the warranty ends, the Border Plan (Plan Fronteras) will have the responsibility of replacing, repowering and adding equipment for the future needs of the medical centre and general consultations throughout the day.
Previously, the facilities had power for only three hours at night; now they no longer use the diesel generator and the community is in charge of maintaining the system. It is estimated that more than 200 families benefit from this project, with special regard to first aid services and pediatric consultations. Since the project is part of the Colombian Government’s Plan Fronteras to build essential public infrastructure in remote areas, there was no external financing needed.
Firstly, it is important to use high quality technology to avoid system failures as much as possible and reduce maintenance costs in the medium and long term, including transportation. Additionally, several people from the medical centre must be trained on O&M tasks (at least for preventive purposes) and ensure a constant flow of direct communication with the technology installer. Due to the long distances in Alta Guajira between different sites, further plans are being developed to scale up this solution across the region as a means to provide medical assistance to remote local communities.