Photovoltaic-battery hybrid system at St. Luke Hospital: between sustainability and innovation

Published on Monday, 4 March 2019

“This guarantee of continuity is vitally important. We have non-surgical patients on oxygen therapy, so lack of electricity and oxygen interruption can have fatal effects. The interruption of the electrical current was dealt with through the use of generators.”

– Gaetano Azzimonti – Medical Director of St. Luke Hospital

Ensuring Energy for Patients

Wolisso is a town of about 50,000 inhabitants, 120 km southwest of the capital Addis Ababa. St. Luke is a top healthcare center for the entire African country: its patient base is 430,000 people. Each year, there are 100,000 outpatient visits, 11,500 hospitalizations and nearly 3,300 assisted births, 40% with complications.

Unfortunately, the Ethiopian national grid still has many failings, especially in the most remote areas: current is weak and goes out constantly. For St. Luke Hospital, it’s a problem that puts the health of the most serious patients or undergoing surgery at risk. 

“Before this project, energy supply to the Hospital was simply unsustainable, through the use of diesel generators to make up for constant interruptions to the grid.”

– Suelen Quadri – Sustainability Africa EGP

Until now, the Hospital has dealt with drops in voltage by using two diesel generators with 100 kW each. Besides being inefficient, they are not sustainable for the hospital or the environment. Plus, they don’t prevent damage to healthcare machinery caused by sudden black-outs and voltage drops.

In collaboration with the NGO “Doctors with Africa CUAMM”, we launched an Innovability project in October 2017. Innovation was called upon to respond to a primary Sustainability need, which involved the planning and construction of an innovative hybrid plant able to manage flows of energy in real time and ensure constant electrical supply. The system also provides economic savings for the Hospital, which can be reinvested in healthcare services for the community.

“Innovation’s job was to find a solution to the constant blackouts that put the machinery and the lives of patients at risk at St. Luke Hospital. We managed to plan a functionally effective and reliable solution. Reliability is the key.”

– Massimo Schiavetti – Energy Storage Innovation Project Manager EGP

In one year, the project was completed and put into operation, guaranteeing an efficient hospital that is respectful of the environment and above all equipped with constant electrical supply for all the patients of St. Luke.