The first showers announce the next rainy season, but the sun still shines for many hours a day on Mthengo wa Nthenga providing energy to the DREAM center and the molecular biology laboratory.
Thanks to the contribution of the Total France Foundation, in support of Total Malawi, and the technical collaboration of the Italian company IME-Pastore, a tight-knit Italian-Malawian technical team has recently put into operation a hybrid power plant. Taking energy from solar panels and storing it in batteries, it provides environmentally friendly electricity, free of charge. It will therefore allow saving both the costs of diesel as well as those of the electric bill, freeing up resources that can be used for other needs of DREAM.
It is a very powerful and innovative HPS plant (Hybrid Power System), developed by Socomec precisely for Africa and for those places not reached by electricity or where it is not provided with continuity.
140 solar panels provide 35 kW of electrical energy that is used in part and in part is stored in 32 special batteries for a total capacity of 100 kWh.
In the altimetric and climatic conditions of the area of Lilongwe the plant yield is very high and therefore some departments of the nearby hospital Francisco Palau also benefit from the energy produced by the HPS system.
When the sun is not enough to provide the required energy or during the night, the batteries come to rescue. Even if the power of the batteries should not be enough, then the HPS system will provide the missing energy taking it from the grid of the city or, failing that, will start the diesel generator.
In this way, the diesel generator, which until now was in operation for many hours a day, will remain off for a very long time. It will therefore reduce greatly the operating costs and the DREAM center will have a much more 'green' footprint, reducing to almost zero CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
It is a unique solar plant model in Africa, applied to health services, which if multiplied, would allow African health facilities, especially laboratories for analysis, to operate continuously at a cost, which is sustainable to all.
Working together every day for more than a month has cemented a beautiful friendship between the technicians at work and allowed an exchange of information and experience that has enriched all. The practical work of mounting was interspersed with training sessions on solar energy systems and the various elements of the HPS system.
The inauguration of the system took place on December 16th and was attended by the CEO of Total for Southern Africa, the Country Director Total Malawi, the Ministers of Energy and Health of Malawi, the managers of the DREAM Program, the staff of the Hospital and the nuns who manage it, as well as by many patients. All praised the extraordinary result achieved, product of this alliance between the Community Sant’Egidio and the Total Foundation. Partnership which is only at the beginning and which will soon realize the same model in many other DREAM centers in south Malawi.
It is the secret of DREAM: to involve many others so that many dreams may come true.