Solar Panels Provide Reliable Access To Energy In Rural India
By Kaitlyn Nuebel
A healthcare facility can have all the medical supplies, medications, and doctors needed to treat patients, but without any electricity, its capacity to help is severely limited. Yet, for 25% of health centers located in India’s rural areas, this is their reality. Millions of people in these areas are left to suffer without access to adequate healthcare.
India’s Primary Health Centers (PHCs) typically provide emergency care, administer vaccines, and assist women in labor. However, without electricity, doctors are unable to provide around-the-clock care or administer vaccines and medication that require refrigeration.
PHCs with irregular or no electricity supply rely on backups like diesel generators, which are not only expensive, but also difficult to use in remote areas. Solar panels provide a sustainable, reliable, and less expensive alternative. Although they cost more than diesel generators initially, the unit cost of solar energy is 45% less than that of diesel and can reduce PHC’s energy costs by 80%.
The logistics of installing solar panels in India’s rural areas can make the project one that is easier said than done. Solar vendors have little information about the electricity demands in these regions and many vendors do not want to travel the distance required to reach them. For the PHCs, solar panels also have the burden of upfront costs, making them very difficult to afford.
Brother’s Brother Foundation partnered with Solar Village Project (SVP) to install solar panels on two PHCs in Bahraich district in the state of Uttar Pradesh. In Bahraich, an estimated one million people lack access to basic healthcare. Once installed, the 5kw solar panels on the PHCs will supply 100% of the health centers’ energy needs. These PHCs, located in the villages of Sujauli and Rampur Dhubiyahar, will not only service more patients – it’s estimated that a PHC with a regular electric supply performs 50% more deliveries and vaccinations than one without – but also reduces maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates. Healthcare workers also benefit working in a facility with power, and will therefore be more likely to remain working in Sujauli and Rampur Dhubiyahar.
BBF is excited to continue its partnership with Solar Village Project in 2023 with a grant to fund solar panels on the Bhilaura Basu Primary Health Center in the Bahraich District. The grant will fund a 5Kw solar array and battery backup that will eliminate power outages and allow doctors to treat patients with a higher quality of healthcare.
[Brother’s Brother Foundation funded the solar panel installation on a Primary Health Clinic in the village of Sujauli, Uttar Pradesh, India, to provide reliable access to energy.]