Why this Innovation is Important

Many areas in need of safe water are in remote places that are off the grid, and communities that are  connected to a utility often have inconsistent service. In addition to reliability challenges, electricity prices can rise without warning—which is why electricity is one of the higher ongoing operational expenses for a Safe Water Station. Installing solar panels at a station provides a predictable and reliable source of energy, and this technology has the potential to be an important component in a model that can be broadly replicated at scale.

Progress to Date

In late 2013, our Ghana team established its first Safe Water Station running entirely on solar power. Having seen success in providing reliable electricity, most stations have been built or retrofitted with solar panels. We expect a reduction in local operating costs by at least 20% due to these solar installations.

As of 2015, our India team has installed solar panels at a number of stations. They have not been as aggressive with the installations, however, due to land restrictions affecting their primarily peri-urban stations.

How this Contributes to the Long-term Success of our Model

A reliable and low-cost source of energy is essential for making safe, affordable water consistently available to a community. In addition, finding alternate sources of energy is important for the development of an approach that can be taken to scale in remote, off-grid regions.

Next Steps

Ghana continues to roll out solar panels at all stations, and is beginning to analyze savings and improved operational performance as a result of solar installations. We are addressing persistent challenges around solar panels, such as cable thefts, capacity building needs, and methods of funding high-capital upfront investments for installations. India will be evaluating alternative ways to incorporate solar at stations.

For More Information

To learn how you can help us develop solar energy in rural areas of Ghana and India, contact: Nat Paynter

 

Ghana
March 15, 2017
Investing in solar power improves station financial viability and supports affordable pricing to reach more consumers. Solar power generation via a photovoltaic (PV) system provides reliable electricity for water purification and reduces operating costs compared to powering the station via the electric utility grid or diesel generators. Our evidence suggests that PV systems can contribute to the long-term sustainability of providing water to rural and peri-urban communities in Ghana.