Sharing Stories of Everyday Good

Building grids, making connections

Most hospitals in the developing world are dependent on diesel generators where fuel is difficult and costly to deliver. Hospitals often must shut down their power systems for periods of time to conserve fuel.

Vaccines are jeopardized, and operations become riskier with intermittent or no power.

Without consistent and reliable power, rural communities face an uphill battle in managing very real health challenges.

Solar energy micro-grids represent a sustainable, long-term solution that frees up resources for direct medicine and staff, as well as mitigates numerous untold environmental, social, and health costs.

The Rural Renewable Energy Alliance’s (RREAL), a nonprofit with a mission is to make solar energy accessible to everyone, saw how solar could empower these communities. RREAL then created Skip the Grid, which demonstrates resilient model of rural electrification with solar energy.

two men carry solar panel Without consistent and reliable power, rural communities face an uphill battle in managing very real health challenges. Pictured is RREAL's John Ruvelson. (Photo: RREAL)

The first Skip the Grid project was built in rural Liberia at Phebe Hospital and School of Nursing. After four years of hard work, RREAL was able to travel install a solar micro-grid for the hospital.

The solar electric array at Phebe provides up to 77% of the hospital’s daytime needs, reducing operations and maintenance costs. Commissioned in 2017, the hospital is projected to save thousands of dollars and carbon emission reductions of about 200,000 pounds annually.

These cost reductions now allow Phebe to expand the vital health care it provides and reduce pollution.

Not only did this project bring immense cost savings to the hospital, but it also brought an opportunity to provide technical training to the electrical and generator staff at Phebe as well as local Liberians.

a man works on solar panel The trained Phebe technicians (pictured: Bobo) are now sharing their knowledge to build solar at rural Liberian clinics, maintain PV micro-grid systems, and support the construction of future Skip the Grid projects. (Photo: RREAL)

Six months after the installation, in October 2017, two of the hospital’s staff members traveled to RREAL’s home in northern Minnesota to participate in a two-week intensive solar energy technical training course.

The trained Phebe technicians are now sharing their knowledge to build solar at rural Liberian clinics, maintain PV micro-grid systems, and support the construction of future Skip the Grid projects.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Phebe Hospital, RREAL traveled to Curran Hospital in Zorzor, Liberia, to complete a solar site assessment for another service project. Curran Hospital is the next rural Liberian community that we will empower to expand its vital health care services.

In 2019, RREAL will be bringing a solar energy solution to a 125-bed hospital facing significant economic and health care challenges. Currently, RREAL is 48% of the way to their $750,000 goal.

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RREAL, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2000, is dedicated to making solar energy accessible to communities of all income levels. We accomplish this mission primarily through our Solar Assistance program, which provides solar energy systems to low-income families and communities as a sustainable solution to energy poverty.

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