Many areas in need of safe water are in remote places that are off the grid, and communities that are connected to a utility often have inconsistent service. In addition to reliability challenges, electricity prices can rise without warning—which is why electricity is one of the higher ongoing operational expenses for a Safe Water Station. Installing solar panels at a station provides a predictable and reliable source of energy, and this technology has the potential to be an important component in a model that can be broadly replicated at scale.
In late 2013, our Ghana team established its first Safe Water Station running entirely on solar power. Having seen success in providing reliable electricity, most stations have been built or retrofitted with solar panels. We expect a reduction in local operating costs by at least 20% due to these solar installations.
As of 2015, our India team has installed solar panels at a number of stations. They have not been as aggressive with the installations, however, due to land restrictions affecting their primarily peri-urban stations.
A reliable and low-cost source of energy is essential for making safe, affordable water consistently available to a community. In addition, finding alternate sources of energy is important for the development of an approach that can be taken to scale in remote, off-grid regions.
Ghana continues to roll out solar panels at all stations, and is beginning to analyze savings and improved operational performance as a result of solar installations. We are addressing persistent challenges around solar panels, such as cable thefts, capacity building needs, and methods of funding high-capital upfront investments for installations. India will be evaluating alternative ways to incorporate solar at stations.
To learn how you can help us develop solar energy in rural areas of Ghana and India, contact: Nat Paynter