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Transforming Healthcare in Rural Nepal Through Sustainable Power

    Siddhasthali Rural Community Hospital, located in Hetauda, Nepal, has embarked on a groundbreaking journey by installing a Solar PV system. This initiative signifies a major milestone in sustainable healthcare, particularly in the rural landscapes of a developing country like Nepal.

    Solar installation above the Oxygen Plant building.
    Solar plant above the DR building.
    Solar Plant above the Pharmacy Block.
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    While Nepal has considerable hydropower potential, the effectiveness of hydropower is heavily dependent on seasonal variations. During the monsoon and dry seasons, there is a marked fluctuation in hydropower production due to changing water levels, leading to inconsistent energy availability. Moreover, the infrastructure and maintenance costs associated with hydropower plants are substantial. These high costs can be particularly burdensome for a developing country like Nepal, where allocating extensive resources for energy infrastructure may detract from other vital areas of development. This situation often forces health centres and other essential services to rely on diesel generators as an alternative energy source. However, diesel fuel is not only expensive but also contributes to environmental pollution and is subject to price and supply volatility, which can be especially challenging for a developing economy.

    The impact of these energy challenges has been starkly evident in Nepal’s recent history. There were times when the country experienced more than 18 hours of electricity outages in a day, severely disrupting daily life and critical services. For health centres, such outages can have dire consequences, affecting everything from the storage of medicines and vaccines to the operation of life-saving medical equipment and basic lighting needs. In such a scenario, the unreliability of the electrical grid can compromise the quality of healthcare delivery and even endanger lives.

    Solar energy offers a viable and sustainable solution to these challenges. It provides a more consistent and reliable power source that is not subject to the same seasonal fluctuations as hydropower. Being renewable and clean, solar energy reduces dependence on costly and polluting diesel fuel, aligning with both environmental sustainability goals and the economic realities of a developing nation. The initial setup cost of solar installations is offset by the long-term benefits of lower operational costs and a more stable power supply.

    The solar panels are bifacial capable of capturing sunlight not just from the front but also from the rear side, harnessing any radiation that reflects off the ground beneath them. This dual capturing ability significantly enhances the overall energy output of the system, ensuring that the solar PV installation at Siddhasthali Rural Community Hospital maximizes its yield and provides a robust, sustainable energy solution.

    Recognizing these challenges, Direct Relief, a California-based non-profit supported the successful installation of 100 KWP Solar plant at Siddhasthali Rural Community Hospital. This initiative represents a crucial step towards enhancing healthcare delivery in Nepal by ensuring uninterrupted operation and aligning with global environmental goals and sustainable development objectives. The Solar plant installed at Siddhasthali Rural Community Hospital will significantly reduce electricity costs and minimize dependency on diesel generators. This strategic shift will foster a cleaner environment while ensuring the hospital’s operations and vital medical equipment function seamlessly. 

    Read More about it from Direct Relief: www.directrelief.org/2024/02/operational-update-solar-backup-power-in-nepal-storm-preparations-in-california/

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