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Batteries are a critical component in nearly all energy systems involving an intermittent power source, including diesel generation, solar PV systems, wind, or intermittent grid; but have proven to be one of the most challenging components of an energy system to maintain.

Health facilities in developing countries need to maintain the cold chain to ensure that critical medicines, vaccines and supplies can reach those in need.

Proper system design and installation are the first steps required for sustainable on-site health facility energy systems. Off-grid energy system design is quite complex and should typically be done by a trained professional. This page does not attempt to teach the user how to do a design and installation, but rather covers some general principles and lessons learned.

Health facilities of all sizes can benefit from efficient lighting for increased energy efficiency, reduced maintenance costs and improved environments.  Indoor and outdoor lighting can be provided by a wide range of lighting technologies, including: incandescent, fluorescent, light emitting diode (LED), and high-pressure sodium, among others.

Incorporating energy efficiency measures for health facilities will help to reduce future challenges associated with off-grid clinics or those with unreliable grid power supply.

Reciprocating Engines (small generators) are the most common form of small generator. In generator-only systems, the generator must be sized to handle the peak expected load, but the system frequently runs at lower loads at reduced efficiency. It is common to find oversized generators at many development country health facilities. Running an oversized generator is expensive and inefficient and should be avoided.

Grid Extensions connects the facility to the local utility grid. If available, grid power is typically the most cost effective power supply, although the cost of extending lines to rural facilities can be prohibitively expensive. The quality of grid power in developing countries is often poor, so on-site technologies are often required regardless of whether a facility is connected to the grid or not.

Inverters are essential for an array of different applications, thus a range of capacities and features are available on the market.  This discussion focuses on important inverter types and applications, especially with regard to renewable energy and battery storage.

Photovoltaic (PV) Systems generate electricity from sunlight collected by solar panels. Energy collected in this manner can be used to supply direct power to electrical equipment, or it can be stored in batteries to provide indirect power.

Remote performance monitoring of health facility power installations increases the speed, effectiveness and value of maintenance activities.

Solar disinfection (SODIS) uses solar energy in the form of ultraviolet radiation and infrared heat to disinfect contaminated drinking water.  It offers a simple, inexpensive way to improve access to clean water.

Uninterruptable power supplies (UPS) are a class of devices that power equipment in the event of grid power failure, nearly instantaneously, protecting the equipment from damage.  UPS systems vary significantly in their design and functionality, affecting the amount of time they can power equipment, their ability to improve power quality and their cost.

Clean water is an essential input for proper health facility operation. Electrification of health facilities provides an excellent opportunity to pump clean water to the facility.

Wind Turbines generate emissions-free electricity from a renewable energy resource. Situating a wind turbine on a site requires careful measurement of wind patterns. While extensive maps of solar resources exist, the same is not true of wind resources. Small wind turbines are available with capacities in the range of a few hundred watts. Larger turbines offer significant economies of scale. Similar to PV systems, wind turbines must be connected to the grid or to a battery system to provide continuous power.