Some of the equipment in the ward is energy-intensive, particularly the oxygen concentrators and baby warmers. We calculated that we need 60 solar panels, generating a maximum of 315 Watts each, to supply the ward and charge the batteries.
The battery bank has to be big enough to run the ward over-night, even during the rainy season when the sun is at its weakest. We are sticking with a very well-proven technology, lead gel. We calculate that we need 48 batteries of 1308 A-hr each.
There’s a lot more to the system than just solar panels and batteries. We need to provide all the switches and wiring, plus invertors to deliver alternating current to the equipment. We will also be providing a spare parts kit and a back-up diesel generator.
At present the nurses have to fetch water from the hospital’s main supply, and it sits in a bucket by the door to the ward. We want the nurses focused on the babies, and so we included a new water tank and a plumbed-in tap as part of the project.
All of the equipment has to be brought from Freetown, five hours drive away, and then it needs to be installed.
Most of the equipment will be imported especially for the project, so we will need to meet the costs of clearing customs. We will also set aside funds for training and maintenance. Once the project is completed, unspent funds will either go to help close other dire gaps in neonatal or maternity services in the region, or towards the cost of replacement batteries (they have around a seven-year life).