This paper analyzes Burkina Faso’s Souro Sanou University Hospital Center’s energy needs and discusses whether or not solar panels are a good investment. This paper also discusses a way to limit the damage caused by power outages. The hospital has a history of problems with power outages; in the summer they have power outages every other day lasting between one to four hours, and in the rainy season they have outages once every other week lasting the same amount of time.
The first step in this analysis was collecting relevant data which includes: location, electricity rates, energy consumption, and existing assets. The data was entered into a program called HOMER. HOMER is a program which analyzes an electrical system and determines the best configuration and usage of assets to get the lowest levelized cost of energy (LCOE). In HOMER, five different analyses were performed. They reviewed the hospital’s energy usage over 25 years: the current situation, one of the current situation with added solar panels, and another where the solar panels have single axis tracking. The other two analyses created incentives to have more solar panels, one situation with net metering, and one with a sellback rate of 0.03 $/kWh. The result of the analysis concluded that the ideal situation would have solar panels with a capacity of 300 kW, and the LCOE in this situation will be 0.153 $/kWh. The analysis shows that investing in solar panels will save the hospital approximately $65,500 per year, but the initial investment of $910,000 only allows for a total savings of $61,253 over the life of the project. The analysis also shows that if the electricity company, Sonabel, eventually buys back electricity then net metering would be more profitable than reselling electricity for the hospital.
Solar panels will help the hospital save money over time, but they will not stop power outages from happening at the hospital. For the outages to stop affecting the hospital’s operations they will have to invest in an uninterrupted power supply (UPS). The UPS will power the hospital for the time between when the power goes out and when their generators are turning on which makes it an essential investment. This will stop outages from affecting the hospital, and if the power goes out during the day then the solar panels can help supplement the energy production which will take some of the strain from their generators.
The results of this study will be sent to officials at the hospital and they can decide if the large initial investment justifies the savings. If the solar panels and UPS can save one life, then maybe the large initial investment is worth it.