Monitoring Renewable Energy Solutions for Improved Health Service Delivery
Access to reliable, high-quality electricity plays an essential role in the delivery of health services. For example, health facilities that lack reliable electricity access are unprepared to deliver adequate health care due to poor lighting, absence of refrigeration and sterilization services, and insufficient use of electricity-dependent medical equipment.
In Sierra Leone, Sustainable Energy for All’s (SEforALL) critical market assessment of the country’s health sector revealed that 38% of health facilities lack any access to electricity and 80% of primary health facilities are not connected to the national grid. For those health facilities that do have some form of access to electricity, most continue to experience unreliable and inadequate access regardless of their combination of electricity sources. Many of these health facilities lack access to affordable, clean energy and rely on diesel generators with frequent breakdowns and prohibitively expensive fuel costs. Based on SEforALL’s market assessment, more than 1,000 health facilities in Sierra Leone either need new power solutions or a backup solutions.
To that effect, SEforALL—with support from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP)—is electrifying health facilities in Sierra Leone with renewable energy solutions to provide clean, reliable energy to support health service delivery. Crown Agents—the implementing organization for this Hospital Electrification Project—summarizes the theory of change as:
nLine’s technology generates data-driven insights on power quality and reliability at health facilities before and after the installation of solar PV systems. This Hospital Electrification Project presented an opportunity to use nLine’s remote monitoring technologies to evaluate the impact of renewable energy solutions on health service delivery, and set a foundation for power quality and reliability standards that ensure the provision of usable, sustainable energy services for health facilities.
Starting in April 2023, nLine sensors were deployed in six already-electrified public hospitals in Sierra Leone. Two hospitals are grid-connected and located in Freetown (Princess Christian Maternity Hospital and Ola During Children’s Hospital) and four hospitals are off-grid, district government hospitals (Kabala, Kambia, Masanga, and Bonthe). nLine collected baseline power quality and reliability metrics at these hospitals for five months prior to the installation of new solar PV systems.
|Ola During Children’s Hospital||✓||✓||✓|
|Princess Christian Maternity Hospital||✗||✓||✓|
|Bonthe Government Hospital||✓||✓||✗|
|Masanga Government Hospital||✓||✓||✗|
|Kabala Government Hospital||✓||✓||✗|
|Kambia Government Hospital||✓||✓||✗|
nLine uses its GridWatch system to continuously measure the frequency and duration of power outages, voltage and frequency levels, and the usage of generators. nLine detects, monitors, and disaggregates power quality and reliability issues by energy source (e.g. grid, solar, or generator) and identifies specific areas within a health facility that are experiencing better or worse power (e.g. in specific buildings, wards, or rooms).
Sensor data collection will continue through July 2024 to continuously observe one full year of power quality and reliability trends at each hospital.
nLine sensor data and aggregated power quality and reliability key performance indicators (KPIs) are supporting Crown Agents and SEforALL in understanding the impact of the newly installed renewable energy solutions on resolving existing power quality and reliability challenges at each hospital. The comprehensive baseline data collection over five months provides a robust picture of the current electricity reliability and quality challenges facing these hospitals. As seen in the figures below, there is notable variation in access to reliable, high-quality power at these facilities.
nLine will monitor power quality and reliability for 6+ months after the new solar PV are installed to evaluate changes in the availability and quality of supplied power, quantify the impact of these changes on health service delivery, and inform standards for future health electrification projects. This longitudinal remote monitoring will also enable month-to-month and seasonal comparisons of electricity reliability and quality over a one year period.
In partnership with Crown Agents, nLine will deploy sensors at 25+ additional health facilities in Sierra Leone prior to SEforALL’s continued investment in renewable energy solutions for healthcare.
Detailed results are forthcoming in 2024. Stay tuned!