March 21, 2017

Newly Released Field Insight Highlights Benefits of Solar Partnership with the Stone Family Foundation

Safe Water Network has released the latest installment in our Field Insight series: “Improving Station Viability with Solar.” The document provides an analysis on how solar power significantly improves the operations and financial viability of H2OME ! water enterprises in Ghana.

The Field Insight shows how investing in solar power improves the financial viability of water enterprises by reducing expensive grid power, and in turn supports affordable pricing to reach more consumers. Furthermore, solar power boosts reliability by ensuring steady power supply to water enterprises.

Conducting a series of analyses—focusing on areas such as system and power requirements, capital expenditure, financial performance, electricity costs, and operational and environmental benefits—Safe Water Network came to the following conclusions:

  • At a capital cost of USD 11K-15K per photovoltaic (PV) system (USD 0.25 per person per year over 20 years), solar increases the project capital cost for a base water enterprise by 15% but reduces operating expenses by almost 20% throughout the 20-year useful life of the PV system.
  • Even under conservative estimates, the incremental cost of a PV system is recovered in an 11.5-year period, through decreased electricity and generator fuel expenditures (compared to a 15-year recovery on typical small-scale solar systems).
  • Solar power helps to ensure water remains affordable to remote, low-income populations. Importantly, it also provides more options for safe water provision to communities not supported by the electric grid.
  • In addition to improving financial performance, solar power increases service reliability, operational uptime, and reduces each water enterprises carbon footprint.

To breathe life into these figures, the Field Insight includes a case study from the village of Ananekrom, where a H2OME ! water enterprise powered by a 2 kW solar system was launched in December 2013. The case study shows that, with minimal generator runtime, Ananekrom’s water enterprise has been powered almost entirely by solar for the past three years, resulting in a 95% reduction in energy costs (compared to the average grid-powered water enterprise).

A number of solar panels and technical assistance for installation and maintenance were provided by Water Mission, a non-profit Christian engineering organization that designs, builds, and implements safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) solutions.

The $250,000 grant that made the expansion of these PV systems possible is one part of a multifaceted partnership Safe Water Network enjoys with the Stone Family Foundation, a leading funder and advocate of market-based solutions for the WASH sector.

Click here to view the Field Insight.

Mary Agyei, primary school student
All we have to do is to turn the tap and water flows. I am able to get to school early now.