Over 1 billion people live in regions without reliable electrical supply. In those regions maintaining a secure “cold chain” for preserving vaccines, medicines and food supplies is extremely challenging .
Until recently, the market for vaccine and fresh food refrigerators in remote areas without reliable electricity has been dominated by kerosene, or gas operated units based on the absorption principle. These refrigerators possess several disadvantages related to operating costs, effectiveness in maintaining appropriate temperatures and environmental impact. In remote areas, obtaining kerosene on a timely and consistent basis has proven to be challenging and expensive. In addition, fossil fuel (mostly kerosene but also propane gas or diesel) powered refrigerators result in greenhouse gas emissions through normal operation and emit toxic fumes that are dangerous for humans when in enclosed spaces. These refrigerators are also more susceptible to catch fire as compared to electric and solar refrigerators. Ordinary electrical refrigerators operated with a genset is a poor alternative due to inefficiency and constant noise.
Another solution is to use solar panels as energy source for the (DC) compressor, which overcomes some of the problems related to the fossil fuels. Nevertheless, many solar refrigerators that are currently available on the market rely on lead-acid batteries to store energy. These batteries are typically the weakest link in solar systems in developing countries because they break down frequently, especially in hot climates. Batteries are also vulnerable to theft and pose an environmental hazard upon disposal.
Therefore, a better solution needed to be found. In this regard, the SolarChill project had been initiated. The SolarChill project was launched in 2001 by a unique consortium of several major international organizations to develop and deliver affordable, technically reliable, climate friendly, solar powered and lead acid battery free refrigeration to regions with insufficient electricity. This is the Solar Direct Drive (SDD) refrigerator with a thermal storage, the SolarChill. The SolarChill partnership currently includes the following organizations, the Danish Technology Institute (DTI), GIZ GmbH, Greenpeace, SKAT, HEAT GmbH, path, UN Environment, UNICEF and WHO
Two main versions of the SolarChill are involved in the project:
1) SolarChill A: Medical application “Preserving vaccines”
2) SolarChill B: Household and commercial purpose “Preserving food”
Continuing with this work, the GEF SolarChill project started in October 2016 and is still running. The project targets the uniform field monitoring of SolarChill appliances both for commercial and medical purposes and the technology transfer for the dissemination of the technology and the local production in developing countries, particularly in the two project countries eSwatini and Colombia. The project engages with local manufacturers in both countries.
To get a technical overview and to further spread the technological options the SDD refrigerators provide, a technology report was prepared and the final draft is now available for download in the resources section of the website www.solarchill.org
Digitalisation has been rapidly transforming everyday life. Most services are already accessible on the go with almost any digital device, wherever and whenever needed. Digital tools also have a wide range of useful applications within development cooperation. Collecting data, for example, has never been easier before. Data can be collected, stored and synchronized from almost everywhere. Digital solutions can enhance monitoring of project implementation. Various technological solutions are available and can be tailored to the different contexts.
In this webinar, we will discuss application, opportunities and challenges of digital monitoring solutions in remote settings. Following the introduction of remote monitoring in general, experiences with applying a remote monitoring system in the SolarChill project are shared. SolarChill deploys solar-powered, environmentally friendly refrigerators to underserved and hard-to-reach communities in Kenya, the Kingdom of Eswatini and Colombia. Providing access to off-grid cooling technology aims at preserving vaccine & food.
Remote monitoring systems can close the current gap on field data on the performance of solar-powered refrigerators under different climatic conditions.
The webinar was hosted by GIZ Proklima (Leon Becker and Christopher Jäger) and the presentation were held by Detlef Schreiber, David Schmid (both GIZ) and Dr. Simon Mischel (SolarChill, HEAT GmbH). The presentation is available for download in the resource section (https://www.solarchill.org/english/resources/)
The first monitioring report is available for download in the resources section.
The purpose of this report is to document the installation and operation of solar powered refrigerators and monitoring systems under this project with the final goal to check compliance with WHO requirements and reliability in real use.
Solar direct drive (SDD) refrigerators have successfully been introduced to the health sector for some years, but there has not been a systematic collection of data on their performance under field conditions across different models and climates for a longer period.
Some of the concerns are the limited ability to control the vaccine temperature under all conditions, especially to avoid freezing, and also if the reliability and energy consumption in practice is in line with the results acquired by the standardized laboratory test that is used to qualify the appliances for WHO PQS listing.
Besides cold chain application the project is investigating possible commercial and household application of the same technology. The refrigerators are classified as vaccine SDD refrigerators (SolarChill A) and commercial refrigerators (SolarChill B). At the time of writing only vaccine refrigerators have been installed.
The primary objective of the project is to gather information from practical field operation of different types of SolarChill refrigerators in three specific countries: Colombia, Kenya and the Kingdom of eSwatini. The selection of the three countries should ensure a broad range of operating condition from hot/humid to temperate/dry. It was planned to have 66 units installed in each country, 200 altogether. This report is based on data from 59 units.
A final measurement report will be published by end of the monitoring period (January 2020). The monitoring period will thus cover sunny and rainy/overcast periods of the year at each location. The Danish Technological Institute has been the main responsible partner for the monitoring program.
Results for each specific refrigerator brand are anonymized in this report with a letter A to E.
Recently, representatives from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy, UNICEF, the Renewable Energy Association of Swaziland (REASWA) and the Eswatini Environmental Authority visited various health facilities in the country to get an update of the status of the units and the SolarChill project.
Visited installation places were:
During the forth session of the UN Environment Assembly, held between 11th and 15th March in Nairobi, interested journalists took a days trip to visit various locations worth sharing for international coverage. This years Assembly is centered around innovative solutions and the SolarChill project was picked as one project worth visiting.
We are proud that we could be part of that activity and we chose the health facility in Olasiti, Narok County, as a place to represent the SolarChill project. The staff at the health facility did a great job to show the location as its best.
SolarChill unit in Naikarra Health Facility
The health facility in Naikarra, Narok county, did obtain a Vestfrost VLS024 unit from the SolarChill project. In 2018 the health facility registered 14,000 patients, justifying the need of cold chain equipment. Equipped with this unit, the health workers have excellent tools to benefit people in vulnerable populations in various ways. First, the cold chain for storing vaccines is maintained even during cloudy days. This is one of the main drivers for safe vaccinations. Second, with the possibility of cooling ice-packs, the health workers can perform outreach activities.
Besides vaccinations and deliveries at the health facility, the health staff performs outreach activities in communities which are far away and hard to reach. These two reasons, long travel distance and poor road conditions, prohibit mums to get their children vaccinated. The health workers at Naikarra perform three outreach sessions each month in three different communities, namely in the villages Iretet, Embiti and Ntepes. Proper planning of the outreach activities is mandatory, all necessary vaccine- and health equipment need to be packed prior to the outreach trip.
Community Health Volunteers
Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) working in the communities on a voluntary basis and are in close contact with the mothers and prepare everything needed during the outreach activity at the village. They organize everything needed during outreach activities and ensure the communication with the health worker. A place for the examination and the vaccination of the children is needed, often the vaccines are given in a church, a school or under a single tree.
The last mile - outreach in Ntepes
Ntepes, a small community in Narok county, is situated in the catchment area of Naikarra Health center. Once a month, there is an outreach session to this village. Ntepes is in a hilly, savanna environment and is about 11 km away from the health center. There is no water available, the location is remote and off-grid. All people in this Massai community are herders and keep sheep, goats or cows. Daily activities are fetching water and collecting firewood, sometimes there is a market in Naikarra for selling their livestock. The newly build school is the place were outreach activities are conducted. During the outreach activity routine health checks for the children are performed. Weight and height are recorded as well as the overall health status of the children. Newly born children can be registered and routinely vaccinated. Given doses and vaccines in Ntepes are Vitamin A and BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guérin), a vaccine against tuberculosis. Oral Polio doses, Pentavalent Vaccine (DPT/HepB/HIB) and PCV 10 against pneumococcal disease and measles are also given to immunize the children according to the plans of MoH. During this outreach mission, 24 children got vaccinations.
Training in the Kingdom took place from the 26th until the 29th of June 2018. The first installation was also done as part of the training. The first day of the training was theoretical. The technical country manager, Peter Chawira thoroughly explained to the attendants from the participating ministries (these included officers and technicians) how the solar chill
technology functions, the advantages and the categories of the refrigerators. From the 27th until the 29th of June 2018, only technicians participated. The first installation took place as part of the training, it was done at King Sobhuza II health facility.
The first SolarChill A unit was installed in AIC Olasiti Dispensary, in Narok County, Kenya. The event at 9th August 2018 was organized by CHAK, Narok County health department and AIC Health Ministries. The Chief guest was HE. Hon. Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai who was represented by CEC Health Hon. Vivian Sereti. The CHAK delegation was led by Chairman Rev. Dr. Robert Lang'at and General Secretary Dr. Samuel Mwenda. Please find the full story in the document CHAK_Times_Issue55 downloadable below.
AIC (African Inland Church) Gatab Health Centre is situated at Mt. Kulal in Marsabit county, about 700km from Nairobi on the shortest route, i.e. Laisamis - Namarei route. The area between Illaut and the junction to Gatab is not very safe and robbery is likely to happen. It is therefore advisable to use Marsabit route through Civicon junction which is safer but very long. Climbing Mt. Kulal on the way to Gatab is one major challenge even to people living in this region. The road is rocky, rough and the highest speed one can drive is not more than 20km/h. The area is also characterized by Steep valleys and cliff which are very dangerous during rainy season. Due to this reason, there are no commuter vehicles to Gatab.
The health facility shares the same compound with a mission centre. This is where AIC missionaries are accommodated whenever they visit the area to support the health facility and Samburu community. The only Guest house available in Gatab was built by AIC missionaries and one has to make arrangement for accommodation and meals early in advance. There are no eating places/food kiosks in the area and most people survive on one meal a day.
AIC Gatab health centre was built by the missionaries and is now managed by the local AIC Church. The nearest health facility is Illaut dispensary which is about 137km away. Major services like x ray, dialysis, surgery etc can only be obtained in Marsabit, Isiolo or in Meru. See below some of the services offered at the facility.
The installation was done by Mr. Kenneth Njeru, technical service from CHAK, the driver was David Ogutu.
We did a successful partnership with Superfluid Labs (www.superfluid.io ) for a market study in Kenya. The outcome was a survey of the most influencing parameters for the off-grid market and the market potential for off-grid solar direct drive refrigerators in Kenya.
The most important findings:
Interestingly, there are a lot of pay-as-you-go providers in Kenya, representing about 30% of the PAYG market.
More than 77% of the Kenyan households are not yet connected to the grid, currently only 4,5% use off-grid solar.
Refrigerators rank on place three, directly after a TV on the most wanted products in a smart home system. These are about 20% of the customers of PAYG systems.
Therefore, we are confident that the SolarChill B technology is ready to enter the wider commercial market
Mr. Joseph Rugut, one of our technicians from CHAK (Christian Health Association Kenya) did the installation of a SolarChill Vestfrost VLS024 unit at Jamia Medical Centra in the Kakamega county, Mumias Township, in western Kenya. The installation was successful and the health facility workers are confident that the unit will provide a valueable tool for their daily work. Please see the Jamia Letter to the SolarChill project as a download below.
A new study on Sustainable Development Goal 7, to ensure
access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, published by IEA (https://www.iea.org/sdg/electricity/) is publicly available.
Energy access policies are providing progress towards
electrification, nevertheless, in sub-Saharan Africa there are more than 600 million people without access to electricity. In this region, the electrification is slowly declining. The strongest progress is in the countries Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria.
As shown in the figure, the SolarChill partner countries, Colombia has the highest electrification rate. Kenya experienced a strong increase, but the decline is clearly visible. Swaziland is almost at the same electrification rate as Kenya, the increase is steadily continuing.
In the Sustainable Development Scenario universal access to electricity will be achieved in 2030. Until then and even beyond, the SDD units from the SolarChill project will provide as a reliable basis for the supply of vaccines in rural areas.
Together with a great team from GIZ Eschborn the SolarChill project won the GIZ Innovation fund 2018.
The innovation fund aims at developing a mobile application "Vaccination Check". This app will connect parents and the health facility and will serve as a calendar, a reminder and a on-demand vaccination availability tool for the vaccines needed to serve the children in the best way possible. No single date for vaccination will be forgotten and only vaccines which are needed will be supplied.
Please find the full story in the document Vaccination Tool.
The SolarChill website, www.solarchill.org, is now available in French. The translation was made by Mr. Wangho René Job. He is a Trilingual Translator (French, English and German) and is located in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Having the website now available in 3 different languages will increase its rating of viewing, reading, knowledge and wider acceptance of its works by the people. It is very important that more people around the world can learn about and gain access to SolarChill Technology and the SolarChill project, as they affect people around the world in general and in areas without a source of conventional electrical energy.
The international conference on SolarChill units was held the 05. June in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Partners were the Programme Organisation et Developpment des Communautes (PODC, Cameroon) et Solafrica (www.solafrica.ch). The aim was the further dissemination of SolarChill units in Cameroon.
During the meeting it was agreed, that PODC and Solafrica will obtain 5 SolarChill A units from our partnering manufacturer Palfridge (eSwatini) as a donation as soon as the units are available.
A site visit at Naikarra Dispensary, Narok county was done together with Rebekka Oelze from the Christian Health Facility Kenya (CHAK) and Dr. Simon Mischel from the SolarChill project. After a warm welcome of the local health workers we visited the installation place for the SolarChill A vaccine refrigerator. At the moment the health facility uses an old-fashioned absorber refrigerating box driven by LPG for cooling the vaccines. As the nearest place for obtaining LPG is about 50 km away, it is a hard task to ensure the delivery of LPG. Another problem is the limited space such a box provides. See the picture section for more information on Naikarra dispensary.
Naikarra is also an excellent place for installing a SolarChill B unit. The nearby church provides a place where the whole community gathers at the evenings or during community events. Therefore, a pre-site assessment was carried out during our visit to gather important information about the local conditions (e.g. roof structure, room availability).
Rafael Hernán Rivera Caballero performed an installation of a B Medical TCW40SDD unit in Pueblo Bello, Departamento del Cesar in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
The installation site is about 6 hours away from Valledupar city. To reach the site, it takes about 2.5 hours by car followed by a 3 hours hike along the Guatapurí river.
The solar panels were assembled at the site and then mounted on a structure specially designed for the housing of the panels.
Everything went quite well during the successful installation of the unit in an off-grid area somewhere in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
Thanks to our country managers Elizabeth Ngodza and Peter Chawira, together with Patricia Mamba and Clifford Dlamini (both MCIT), the site assessment visits for potential SolarChill B sites were done from 23-27 April 2018 in the Kingdom of eSwatini.
The main purposes were:
The site assessment was done in different locations in the regions Lubombo (4 sites), Shiselweni (5 sites), Manzini (3 sites) and Hhohho (3 sites). All sites have no electricity connection.
The SolarChill project reached an important milestone.
The installation of the first B-Medical SolarChill unit took place in Caldono, Cauca province, Colombia in the health facility "punto de atención Caldono".
First, the solar arrays were installed at the roof of the health facility. Second, the unit was installed inside the building. After wiring and successful testing of the complete installation, the setup was finished. Running for approximately 24h, the temperature inside the vaccine compartment of the B-Medical unit reached about 5.5 °C. This temperature is well within the desirable range of vaccine storage. With the in-build monitoring device we are able to monitor the ambient and inside temperature and thus are able to monitor the performance of the unit.