PROJECT UPDATE: The very first solar direct drive (battery-free) ice pack freezers to store vaccines have been installed and are being monitored. All are working better than expected and they are now commercially available. And, working with our partner USAID, we are preparing to provide a solar micro-grid in Sabana Crespo to power a local health clinic, school and other services for the community.
2013 Update: SELF was selected as a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for our groundbreaking research in solar powered direct-drive freezers to support global health and development. To support immunization efforts at two remote village health posts in the mountains of Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, we are field testing three recently installed solar powered direct-drive vaccine refrigerators and the first commercially available direct-drive, battery-free vaccine icepack freezer.
We are also planning on installing a solar energy based microgrid in the village of Sabana Crespo, located 1.5 hours away from the nearest city and electricity grid. The village’s primary cash crop is coffee, and it has been using a diesel generator to power its two coffee processing facilities. Not only will the microgrid power the coffee facilities, but it will also be used to power the village’s general store, a health care clinic which includes a new laboratory, and the village’s school and its cafeteria. The microgrid is flexible enough that additional solar power can be added as the needs of the community grow over time!
With support from Acción Social (a branch of the President’s Office in Colombia) and Microsoft, SELF conducted a week long site assessment to determine the feasibility of deploying solar electric systems for the indigenous Arhuaco, Kogi and Wiwa communities in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains of northern Colombia.
The project, a part of the Cordon Ambiental y Tradicional de la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta initiative led by Acción Social, is intended to power the health and educational facilities in the villages, along with community lighting systems at select locations.
SELF’s assessment confirmed that installing solar power systems at all of the sites is technically feasible, and that adequate and acceptable space exists for the location of the PV arrays and battery structures. It’s anticipated that the systems will power new energy-efficient laptop computers and lighting in the schools, and high-efficiency fans, lighting and vaccine refrigerator/freezers at the health facilities, including dental equipment at one clinic.
SELF is working closely with our partners to initiate this project, which will serve to expand our presence in South America and further the reach of our Whole Village Development Model.
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