SolarWorld Americas Inc., the largest U.S. crystalline-silicon solar manufacturer, is providing 1.2 megawatts of high-performance solar panels to power the world’s largest solar-powered, safe-water treatment project. The project’s systems will serve more than 250,000 Congolese and Burundian people living in three refugee settlements in Western Tanzania. The high reliability of SolarWorld’s solar technology is critical for the long-term success and operation of the installed water-filtration systems.
The project is proceeding under the management of Water Mission and the funding of the Poul Due Jensen Foundation (Grundfos Foundation). SolarWorld is selling its technology at favorable pricing to Water Mission, a main charitable strategic partner of SolarWorld. Water Mission is an engineering nonprofit that designs, builds and implements safe water, sanitation and hygiene solutions for people in developing countries and disaster areas. The Poul Due Jensen Foundation, which funds sustainable, resilient and affordable safe water projects in poor rural communities in developing countries and the world’s forgotten refugee camps, is providing $5.3 million to improve health and living standards in the Nyarugusu, Nduta, and Mtendeli refugee settlements.
The project’s goal is to pump 100 percent of the water using solar power, with diesel generators as backup. Since 2010, Water Mission has relied on SolarWorld solar panels for projects in some of the world’s most remote and harsh conditions in light of their high durability, compared with other panels that have been tested or used on projects.
“In the hundreds of projects that I have worked on, we have never had a service call for a defective SolarWorld panel,” says Will Furlong, Water Mission’s regional director of Tanzania. “The company provides a level of confidence that’s hard to quantify because we wouldn’t be able to effectively maintain other unreliable power sources.”
An initial shipment of 780 290-watt solar panels headed for Tanzania will produce 226,000 watts of power to provide a continuous supply of safe water to keep children, particularly newborns to 5-year-olds, from getting sick and dying from water-borne diseases, according to Water Mission. Water Mission conservatively estimates that the cost of the entire project will be recovered in about nine years by eliminating operating and maintenance expenses associated with diesel generators. Also, projections indicate that an additional $1.3M will be saved over the next 15 years.
“I believe that the longevity of each panel will surpass the company’s 20-year product warranty,” Furlong says. “Once the panels are installed, they run continuously at essentially zero cost. Based on the excellent quality and reliability of SolarWorld panels, we can’t afford not to use them on our projects because people need safe water to survive. Lives depend on them.”
Image credit: By Charles Asik from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – Elephant and Kilimanjaro, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4351655