This is the kind of story that illustrates perfectly the beauty of solar power and alternative energy in general. The Red Cross is testing solar power for its pop-up hospitals in emergency areas where there is not enough diesel fuel to keep generators working around the clock.
According to this Globe and Mail report, solar energy is already the primary energy source in several medical facilities in Haiti and Africa. The initiative has been made possible with donations from non-profit organizations such as the Clinton Foundation and the Washington, D.C.-based Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF).
According to the Red Cross director of emergencies and recovery, Hossam Elsharkawi, solar power technology is not 100 per cent reliable yet, but it’s not far from getting there. He said solar power is firmly in the organization’s agenda.
Pop-up hospitals are inflatable tents that can be erected in 20 minutes with all the medical paraphernalia that goes with it. Operating rooms can be set up in less than 12 hours. Mr. Elsharkawi said technology related to emergency field hospital is constantly evolving and pop-up hospitals represent the cutting edge.
Post-earthquake Haiti highlighted the importance of alternative energy sources in hospitals where health professionals simply cannot afford to have a power outage.
The solar power systems being used consist of solar panels to harness energy and deep cycle batteries for storage. The systems provide electricity for lighting, equipment, refrigerators, computers and satellite communications systems, among others.
SELF recently made available online a case study about its successful installation of 20 kilowatts of PV systems to provide electricity to the Thomonde Hospital in Haiti. The system uses 126 PV modules and 48 Trojan batteries to power the hospital 24 hours a day.