The race for universal renewable energy access continues apace and solar is very much in the spotlight for providing cheaper, cleaner, sustainable energy. But one area in which solar-powered devices are making significant inroads is in the healthcare sector. Indeed, solar power has been protecting and enhancing the quality of healthcare worldwide for years now in the following ways.
Making healthcare more accessible and of quality
There are over 800 million people across the world living without electricity with most of them in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. However, electricity is required more than ever before today to power medical wards, keep vaccines cold and sterilize equipment.
Given that the region has a vast reserve of untapped solar energy it makes sense that it would be used to create power in the areas that need it most. Indeed, solar power has meant that over 34 million people are now benefitting from better health care.
Medical equipment powered by solar energy
The sheer number of medical applications that are opened up by solar energy is just dazzling. From sterilization via saturated steam in a pressurized chamber to lighting that will ensure nobody ever has to give birth in the dark.
There are dozens of initiatives taking place. One doctor is using pigskin from local slaughterhouses to mount solar panels while others using DC motor controllers to manipulate the position, speed or torque of a DC-powered motor. They can be found powering solar panels used for medical equipment in clinics such as Africa and India. Indeed, there are clinics and hospitals in remote locations where traditional electricity is just impractical and solar power means more operations and more procedures can happen, saving countless potential lives.
Cost effective and Sustainable
Diesel power generation is notoriously expensive, not to mention environmentally hazardous. Solar panels, meanwhile, are cheap to install and can save medical facilities as much as 40%. With the heavy sun experienced by most impoverished regions, it’s also a much more reliable form of energy. There will be additional savings made due to reduced waste (thanks to temperature control) and a more precise supply management system.
Most importantly, however, is the sustainability of solar power. Local governments and communities are working together to ensure that, according to UNDP’s Pfungwa Mukweza: “There is a plan for repairs, maintenance and replacement of the batteries and even the solar panels.” It’s contributing to cheaper and more resilient medical systems with reliable power and better health coverage. We are still, however, at the very early stages of full adoption, particularly in the developed world. The universal healthcare sector, however, remains a shining beacon for the potential of solar energy. It’s now up to all of us to ensure other sectors start taking note.