In a historic celebration, the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine inaugurated its 501.33 Kwp Solar PV System on 30th November 2019, at its Fajara campus.
The inauguration, organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, celebrated the successful installation of the biggest solar power generation system in The Gambia, partly supported by the UNIDO/GEF 5 project: “Greening the productive sectors in The Gambia”.
The main aim of this project for the MRCG at LSHTM is to harness the sun’s energy and convert it to electrical power to be fed directly into the Unit’s internal distribution electrical system, to augment and offset its consumption costs. Consequently, the MCRG at LSHTM will also be able to become more competitive and reduce its energy dependence. This is in line with the MRCG at LSHTM’s overall strategy to make its buildings and operations more energy efficient, and also ensure that its facilities constantly improve and evolve with the latest green technologies available.
The inauguration was led by the Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry, Honourable Lamin Dibba. He said that, “The Government of The Gambia with support from UNIDO has designed a renewable energy project in the climate change focal area with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the fifth replenishment cycle (GEF 5). The MRCG at LSHTM was one of the organisations that have benefited from the GEF 5 renewable energy project in The Gambia, that resulted in this clean, sustainable and environmentally friendly energy power, which is being inaugurated”.
In March 2018, the MRCG at LSHTM piloted a 62.5 Kwp system on two of its buildings in Fajara, and this system has generated 142 megawatts so far. In November 2018, the institution started the 501Kwp project on its Fajara and Keneba sites. With this system, the MRCG at LSHTM expects to optimally produce 920 megawatts per annum, saving up to 25% of its energy bill. In addition, the project will contribute to efforts around environmental protection, notably cutting down 1,250 tons of carbon emissions to the atmosphere, yearly. The MRCG at LSHTM hopes to cut down its carbon emissions by 50% or more, as it continues to grow its capacity with solar energy installations over the next years.
Professor Umberto D’Alessandro, Director of the MRCG at LSHTM, said “This project has many benefits, not just for our Unit, but for The Gambia and beyond. It will promote industrial growth and technological progress, providing the platform for new cutting-edge scientific research across the West African sub region. The grid-tie architecture of this system is an ideal solution for industrial and tertiary sectors where big electrical load processes take place during the day time. When we promote this architecture, we can reduce the common idea that solar energy is a solution only for small, residential systems. I believe our system has shown this is not the case, and can be used as an important example to be replicated elsewhere”.
The UNIDO Regional Representative, Christophe Yvetot said, “UNIDO recognizes that the transformation towards sustainable future has to be driven both by efforts from the private and public sector. Today’s event represents a milestone for The Gambia’s health sector and for MRCG at LSHTM, whose objective is to address health issues of priority in low- and middle-income countries, by strengthening partnerships and engagement with a range of stakeholders, including the people and the Government of The Gambia and the West African Region”.
The project also represents a great demonstration of international cooperation in industrial investment and technology. It has also provided skills training opportunities for Gambians. The installations were done by a group of more than 40 brilliant and committed young women from the M’bolo Association’s skills development programme, who worked in partnership with Azimut 360, the official contractors for the project.
The MRCG at LSHTM has committed to working closely with the Government of The Gambia and other development partners to deliver significant research outcomes, that will contribute to the global sustainable development agenda, and have lasting positive impacts on the local populations.