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Upgrading the Bwiam Hospital Solar System

Upgrading the Bwiam Hospital Solar System

It is an exciting time now that we are upgrading the Bwiam Hospital solar power system from its original 12kW solar system commissioned in 2009. For this project, we selected the Gambian company Greenlink ( http://www.greenlink.solar/ ) to serve as our contractor.  Critically, all three of the Bwiam Hospital’s electrical maintenance staff – Saikou, Sarjo and Omar – worked with Greenlink on every step of the process so that they could understand each part of the system and be able to keep the system running over time.

This upgrade was funded in part by a Global Environmental Facilities grant administered through UNIDO, with the remaining funding provided by generous donors including the Robertson Interfund Gifts, the Nana Fund of the Triskeles Foundation, and many additional individual donors.

The new system adds an additional 52 kilowatts of solar power to the original 12 kW solar system. But before adding the new components, we needed to test and rebuild the old system. Environmental conditions in The Gambia can be harsh on electrical equipment, so it was important to take down, clean and test each part of the original solar power system. In testing the old components, we found several critical pieces of equipment had electrical damage. Greenlink and the hospital team cleaned, repaired or and replaced the damaged equipment, and rewired and fixed the trackers to reduce maintenance problems in the future.

Another important job was upgrading the hospital wiring. In a large facility, power comes in 3 “phases”. It is important for those phases to be balanced – ie each phase should carry approximately the same amount of electrical load. In this we wanted to make sure that the system would not only meet the hospital’s current need, but that it would allow for future growth. Work on the wiring took several weeks, but the end result was a better, safer and more balanced electrical system for the hospital.

Installing the new batteries, cleaning and repairing the original solar system components and rewiring the hospital to provide a safer and better managed electrical system was a challenging but wonderful experience. Many thanks to PUG volunteer Leland Mayne for his time working on this system, along with our thanks to all the team at Greenlink and at the hospital for a job well done!