Life Saving Solar Power – Part One

Article & Photos by Joy Suarkia, CRMF

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Having reliable solar power in a remote and isolated community is very important and can even save lives. There are instances where we have lost patients just because we have limited or no power at all to run the oxygen concentrator or keep anti-venom vaccines cool in the vaccine fridge for snake bite patient. It is tough for our Community Health Workers. But we thank CRMF that with the new Solar Installation ECPNG Health Center can now operate 24/7 without having to worry about power.”

Sally Lloyd Hoey
Sally Lloyd Hoey, daughter to Tom and Salome Hoey who are Missionaries and founders of the Mougulu Station.

The Background

Christian Radio Missionary Fellowship’s (CRMF) Technicians lead by Lukas Schadegg, took an hour’s flight from Goroka to the ECPNG Health Centre in Mougulu for the purpose of installing a solar system.


Google Maps showing location of Mougulu (Mogulu) in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea

The ECPNG Health Centre is located in the remote community of Mougulu (Mogulu) in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea. The facility provides a delivery room for mothers and next door to it is the main health post which accommodates other ill and injured patients. The health centre operates 24/7 and consists of four Community Health Workers. With a total of 18,000 people living within Mougulu, the Community Health Workers normally attend to a total of 3,000 to 8,000 patients each month. Even surrounding villages and communities within the Western Province consider Mougulu a central place they can go to in order to access health services.

The Challenges

The ECPNG health centre was using a combination of diesel generator and a 12-volt solar system. Both, however, were unreliable and have caused problems for the staff and patients. These problems include the inability to run life-saving oxygen concentrators, ceiling fans and more concerning is the fact that the vaccines and anti-venom go to waste as they are not stored at the right temperature because of the limited power.

In addition to this, is the expense on vaccines, anti-venom, five 200 Litre diesel fuel drums, and additional transport costs by plane since there are no accessible roads.

What was Required

The requirement for the health centre was to design a solar system that runs the facility from the generator. As Mougulu is so remote, our client was looking for a power system that runs off-grid and is sustainable in the future, low maintenance, viable and independently suitable for its remote setting.

The Solution

The remoteness of the location made the logistics one of the biggest challenges. With no access to roads the only way to fly in supplies is either through MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) or other aviation operators. As there are strict regulations about flying lithium batteries, we selected and used the Tesvolt batteries which come in modules and could be assembled on site to a full battery bank.

MAF was able to transport the equipment’s required to set up the Solar System at the ECPNG Health Centre.

Thirty-two solar panels (10kWp) were installed on the health center’s roof providing energy for the facility. Included in the solar system were two Solar Inverters (SMA Sunny Boy) and one Battery Inverter (Sunny Island) which works in conjunction with the Tesvolt battery bank. Both products are manufactured in Germany and have proven to be high in quality, reliable and long lasting.

The Advantage

The solar installation has ensured the vital health services at the ECPNG health center can continue to meet the needs of the people in Mougulu by providing a consistent, high quality and dependable power source.

CRMF’s Lukas Schadegg, Ismael Doroware and Gollinson Wena

With a reliable 24/7 power source, vaccines and anti-venoms won’t go to waste as they are now kept at a consistent cool temperature in the vaccine fridge. The Community Health Workers won’t have to worry about ruining the life-saving oxygen concentrator for the patient or using limited light throughout night emergencies to do operations or assisting mothers deliver their babies.

The off-grid solution for the ECPNG health centre is very appropriate for its setting, providing a reliable power source and also enables the health center to save money in the future as they won’t have to pay for the expensive diesel fuel for the generator. The system can even cater for additional loads for future extensions made to the facility.

The Health Centre at Mougulu lit up with solar power

CRMF would like to acknowledge the support from the Hoey family, supporting Churches and generous individuals who funded this project. The new solar system would not possible without their continues giving and support towards the development of the Mougulu Community.

Article & Photos by Joy Suarkia, CRMF

The story continues next week with Part II of Life Saving Solar Power – this time featuring a real life emergency from the Health Centre in Mougulu.

Visit the Christian Radio Missionary Fellowship’s (CRMF) website To find out more about the work they do in PNG.

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