Almost a decade of solar power – time for upgrade
Construction of the Bwiam Hospital (formerly Sulayman Junkung General Hospital) solar power system began in 2008. After almost a decade of hard service, it was time to upgrade the system by replacing the battery bank and adding more panels to provide more power. Working with the Gambia solar company Greenlink, we will be putting in 64 kilowatts of solar panels to meet the growing needs of the hospital. The original system, of 12 kilowatts solar power, cannot meet the current hospital energy demand. Clean power has helped the hospital to grow – and we needed to grow the solar power project with it!
This time we are installing “green batteries” that use a salt-water technology. Instead of the older lead acid batteries that needed regular maintenance and care, we have two large maintenance free batteries, courtesy of Aquion Energy and the Robertson Fund. It was quite the adventure bringing these batteries up from the Port of Banjul to the hospital. Nothing is straightforward working in developing countries. First – a 3 day search to find just the right truck that could gently and safely transport these 1 ton batteries. There are no loading docks or forklifts in Bwiam, so a crane truck was the solution. Then, once the crane truck gently lowered the batteries down to the outside of the solar equipment house, the hospital maintenance crew used a pallet jack and muscle power to get them in the house. Thanks to PUG volunteer Leland Mayne and our contractor Greenlink, the batteries were correctly installed, connected, charged. We expect these batteries will provide another good decade of service – with the added bonus of being maintenance free!