In September 2017, Sawayra completed its first major project by installing 36 solar panels of 300W each at Bilquis Mushaf Hospital in Rashidabad, Tando Allah Yar district, Pakistan. The system also included 24 800Amp-h rechargeable batteries to supply power in the evening. The system uses four Outback Flex Max 60 MPPT charge controllers to charge the batteries using power from the solar panels. In turn, the batteries supply power via a 7kVA Outback DC to AC power inverter to fans, lights and appliances at the hospital. A Mate3 System Controller and HUB4 communication manager (both from Outback Power ) are used for system control and remote monitoring. After the system was installed its performance in 2017, 2018, and 2019 is shown in the graph below.
The system was producing 480 kWh per month. This averages to 16 kWh per day. A 10.8 kWp system should produce closer to 50kWh per day on a sunny day. As such, it was decided to make some changes in the hardware to improve performance, and this has been discussed in the blog section. Please click link for more details.
Rashidabad is a philanthropic oasis in the heartland of Sindh province, providing a complete humanitarian eco-system to the rural populace. Located 200 km from Karachi and close to Tando Allahyar and Mirpurkhas, Rashidabad is surrounded by some of the most impoverished rural areas of Sindh. It is home to multiple welfare organizations. In mid 2016, a fact-finding team consisting of Sawayra volunteer Moiz Fatah and five Sawayra interns – Qamaruddin Sheikh, Taha Ahmed Siddiqui, Muhammad Zaid, Tabish Ahsan and Affan Khan – from NED, the leading engineering university in Karachi, visited Rashidabad. They found that the medical facilities providing a variety of services on a humanitarian, non-profit basis – blood transfusion, kidney dialysis, eye surgery and gynecologic care were suffering from acute energy shortage.
At the same time, the hospital suffers from 8-10 hours of daily load shedding in the winter, and 12-14 hours without electricity everyday, during the summer.Not only did this lack of electricity increase patient suffering – no fans, no lighting – but could cause critical care equipment to shut down due to lack of power. The power generation equipment available on site could barely cope up. The hospital tries to compensate partly by running some generators, but they don’t have the financial resources to cover the entire shortfall. Specifically, they have a 100 KVA and 60 KVA unit. Running of these generators contribute hugely to an increased carbon content in the air; 0.821 Kg for every KWh of energy generated which is much higher than Pakistan’s average of 0.473 Kg/KWh. Which results in an equivalent of 3.2 metric tons equivalent released per month. Also, the continuous prolonged operation results in an increased additional cost incurred on diesel fuel.As a non-profit entity, they are also committed to minimizing the number of patients they turn away. Nevertheless, temperature in the summer can soar to 100 deg F, so being sick and sitting in darkness or in the heat can be oppressive.
In terms of specific energy requirements, the interns determined the following
- The total load requirement of the hospital in the summer per day is 200 KWh
- The total load requirement of the hospital in the winter per day is 50 KWh
- In terms of providing solar power, the roof of the four story hospital had 8900 sf ft available for solar panels
In November 2016, Sawayra organized a fundraiser at Shahnai Restaurant in Houston to raise money for hospital. The event was attended by about a hundred people and the team raised almost $30,000 for the hospital, with some additional funds raised for the remaining Sawayra projects. However, about $8800 of the money raised same in the form of Zakat – an annual, mandatory charity given by Muslims equally 2.5% of wealth. Since Zakat money can not be spent on infrastructure, but requires direct transfer of funds or benefit to very poor people in terms of food, clothing, shelter, medical care etc, it was sent to Rashidabad Memorial Welfare Organization with the stipulation that it be used for providing medical care at Bilquis Mushaf Hospital for very poor patients. The actual transfer was done in March 2017, without any stipulation or quid pro quo, because Zakat money cant be given any kind of conditions attached.
Nevertheless, the management at Rashidabad offered to contribute funds to the solar electrification project from their general funds. In early 2017, the project team approached five major vendors in Pakistan to request quotes for a hybrid solar system, one that would turn off when line power is available, and switch to solar power during load shedding. Moreover, the design would incorporate rechargeable batteries, so patients could have fans and lights operating in evening during power outage, and didnt have to sit in the dark. In addition to the five interns mentioned above, the project team consisted of Mr Khurram Abdullah who is an Energy professional in Pakistan and volunteers his time with Sawayra. Additional project management and Supply Chain support was provided by Mr Syed F Raza, who is one of the officers of Sawayra.
Vendor Selection and Contract Terms
Based on the funds raised, it was clear that we could not provide solar power for the entire hospital, but could cover one floor. Moreover, the focus would be on lighter appliances such as light bulbs, fans etc. Specifically, instead of a system that could provide 200 kWh or energy per day, we scaled down to a system that could provide about 50 kWh per day in the summer. The RFQ process involved the following vendors:
- Nizam Energy
- Orient Energy Systems
- Greaves Pakistan Ltd
- Iceberg Industries
- Solar and Electrical Technologies
Based on the prior experience of the vendors, price, warranty, lead time etc., two vendors made it to the second round of the selection process:
More details were obtained from both these two suppliers. At the end of a five month process, the Sawayra team selected Orient Energy Systems to install a turnkey solar power system at Bilquis Mushaf Hospital. The terms and conditions of the contract were signed in May 2017, and the Purchase Order was issued the same month. Under the terms of the contract, Sawayra would make 25% down payment at the start of the project, with another 50% to be paid upon delivery of equipment, another 20% paid after successful commissioning and verification of performance, and the final 5% paid 30 days after completions of any punch list items, so we had some confidence the performance of the system. As part of the project, Orient Energy would transport, install and commission the following solar power system at Bilquis Mushaf Hospital in Rashidabad:
- Thirty six solar panels of 300W each from Canadian Solar to be installed on the roof of the hospital
- One 7kVA DC to AC inverter from Outback Power to draw power from the batteries and run appliances at hospital
- Twenty-four 800Ah 2V rechargeable, deep cycle gel batteries from Vision
- Four Charge Controllers Flex Max 60 from Outback Power for charging the batteries using solar power
- One Mate 3 System Controller from Outback Power
- One Hub4 from Outback Power to enable data collection, system performance and web-reporting
- Mounting equipment, cables and other accessories
Partnership With Hunar Foundation
A non-profit school called Hunar Foundation is located at Rashidabad. The motto of this organization is Learn to Earn. It provides vocational training in areas such as plumbing, carpentry, electrician etc. Sawayra has a MOU with Hunar Foundation to support developing skills to improve the livelihood of people in communities that we work in. As such, the agreement with Orient Energy stipulated that they would use Hunar trainee electricians during the installation and commissioning of the solar power system to provide live training. Moreover, the Hunar students will also be used to provide subsequent maintenance of the system. The information captured during commissioning would also be used to create a Solar Power Training Module that could be taught by Hunar Foundation, and would also be made available completely free of charge by Sawayra to anyone who wants to use it.
The first batch of Sawayra interns working on Solar Electrification Project graduated in May 2017. A dinner ceremony was held at a restaurant in Karachi on May 4th 2017 to thank all five outgoing interns for their effort in developing project requirements, evaluating hardware options, cost-benefit analysis of the quotations that were received from vendors, and presenting a final report to Sawayra management. At the event, certificates were handed out by Retired Air Commodore Shabbir Sahab, the founder of Rashidabad Memorial Welfare Organization.
Our thanks to Qamaruddin Sheikh, Taha Ahmed Siddiqui, Muhammad Zaid, Tabish Ahsan and Affan Khan, and the best wishes for the future.
A new team of interns, joined at that team at this time. They are: Imran Zammarrud, Jawad Javed, Samreena and Sidra Hussain (Group lead). These interns also came from NED University, to provide some continuity and ease of hand-off. These interns were sent to Rashidabad to come up to speed on the project in May 2017 and started working closely with Orient Energy on design, installation, validation etc.
The project installation was completed in early September 2017. Currently, we are working through punch-list items to address some gaps.For more information, please contact Syed Fawad Raza (firstname.lastname@example.org). We welcome your participation, suggestions and ideas.