Schatz Energy Research Center
A blue, top-loading refrigerator with a manual on top sits behind nested purple and white plastic bowls and a tan plastic pitcher
Vaccine refrigerator, photo by Jimento Aikhuele

Energy needs for covid-19 clinics

Among the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic is the need to provide testing in regions with little to no access to an electrical grid. The most common approach for COVID-19 diagnostic testing involves collecting samples that must be kept cool or frozen until they reach centralized test facilities. In remote areas, transporting these samples can take several days. This spring, the Lighting Global program at the World Bank asked our off-grid research team to develop an initial assessment of the energy needs required for sample screening, clinic storage, and transportation to test laboratories.

For this project, Meg Harper, Tyler Bernard, and Arne Jacobson from our off-grid team collaborated with Amy Sprowles, Associate Professor of Cellular and Developmental Biology at Humboldt State University. As a biomedical scientist with collaborators at the Stanford, UCSF and UC Davis medical schools, Dr. Sprowles contributed insight on screening and laboratory processes for COVID-19, including temperature requirements for sample storage and transport. We also reviewed the available literature on COVID-19 testing protocols, and guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) for vaccine refrigeration.

Our recommendations are included in a new technical guidance note jointly published by the Schatz Center, the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), and Lighting Global. This document aims to help energy and health professionals select best fit solar appliances and module installations for COVID-19 screening. The publication is one piece of a broader effort by the World Bank and other development agencies to improve health care delivery in regions without stable access to an electrical grid.

Solar panels on clinic roof in _____ Nigeria
Solar panels at the Angwangarka Primary Health Centre, photo by Jimento Aikhuele

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