With this year’s World Water Week theme of energy & water, Safe Water Network and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation co-convened a panel evaluating the economics of solar-powered water systems, comparing it to alternative power sources as well as exploring what role solar can play in providing affordable, safe water in rural areas.
Panelists presented to a capacity-filled room case studies on the economic tradeoffs and the implementation challenges, addressing the opportunity to expand its application in areas of need where appropriate.
The panel was moderated by Darren Saywell, Ph.D.,WASH director, Plan International USA. Panelists included Sean Kerrigan, senior director, World Vision; Rasoul Mikkelsen, director, Global Partnerships, Grundfos; Geraldine Lin, global product manager, Grundfos; and Joseph Ampadu-Boakye, program manager, Safe Water Network.
Most rural areas do not have access to grid power, but even in communities with access, both cost and reliability are issues. In Ghana, for example, electricity rates rose 78% in 2013. Grid power is also vulnerable to inflation and currency fluctuations. In some instances, the cost of electricity can almost double without warning.
With the cost of solar panels coming down each year, it would appear that the operating savings and reliability of solar would outweigh the upfront capital costs. To date, though, there is a lack of supporting evidence.
Safe Water Network’s Stockholm World Water Week side event drew upon our panelists’ field-based experiences in multiple countries to examine solar power’s impact on operating costs, capital, system maintenance and overall reliability.
For more information on Solar Power for Community Water Supply: Do the Economics Work? -- A Stockholm World Water Week side event, contact:
Darren Saywell, Ph.D., WASH director, Plan International USA: With 20+ years of international operations, research, consulting and teaching experience in the WASH sector, Mr. Saywell is also Associate Editor of the Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development.
Sean Kerrigan, senior director, World Vision: Leads the WASH team responsible for World Vision’s $400m global portfolio. A chemical engineer, theologian and has an MBA, Mr. Kerrigan has worked all over the world and currently lives in Ethiopia.
Rasoul Mikkelsen, director, Global Partnerships, Grundfos: With 15+ years of experience in strategic partnerships, development policy, project financing and investment in developing countries with a focus in Africa and Asia, Mr. Mikkelsen is responsible at Grundfos for building and developing long-term strategic partnerships with key stakeholders and partners in developing countries.
Geraldine Lin, global product manager, Grundfos: Geraldine oversees the Renewables Energy Product Family in Grundfos A/S. She drives the Renewables Energy product development both internally and externally. In her job, she provides consultancy to all Grundfos sales companies and industrial partners and has successfully contributed to winning international tenders for Solar Pumping projects in that capacity.
Joseph Ampadu-Boakye, program manager, Safe Water Network: Mr. Ampadu-Boakye is responsible for Safe Water Network’s market analysis, program development, communication and partnership initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa. As an advisor to the Ghanaian government, he was involved in the Ghana Water Sector Strategic Development Plan and the National Rural Sanitation Model. He has an MS degree in development planning and management.
About Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is a family foundation established in 1944 by the man who started Hilton Hotels. Mr. Hilton bequeathed virtually his entire estate to the Foundation in 1979 with a charge to relieve the suffering of disadvantaged and vulnerable people throughout the world. Following his father’s example, Barron Hilton has committed the bulk of his personal fortune to the Foundation as well. With assets in excess of $2.2 billion, the Foundation has awarded more than $1 billion in grants, distributing $83 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2012.
About Safe Water Network
Safe Water Network's mission is to develop innovative solutions that provide safe, affordable water to those in need. We bring together diverse capabilities to address the challenges of local ownership and sustainability. Working with the private and public sectors, we advance our field initiatives for broad replication. We also document and share this effort through forums, workshops, reports and case studies. Our community-led water systems provide over a quarter of a million people with safe water access in India and Ghana.