Photo via News Blaze
In Iraq, where rolling blackouts and severe electricity restrictions plague the nation, a reliable power supply can mean the difference between life and death. Without it, important medical centers can't provide the necessary treatment to the wounded. So it was a stunning achievement for the American-Iraqi Multinational Force—and a great moment for solar power technology—when an Iraqi-led group designed and installed a photovoltaic cell system on a Baghdad medical clinic. This has far greater significance than most ordinary solar projects: this solar power will literally help save the lives of Iraqi civilians and Coalition soldiers.Solar Power Provides Relief to Wounded in Baghdad
The new solar powered medical clinic serves the Ameriyah neighborhood in Northeastern Baghdad. Before the solar panel system was built, this clinic could only operate during daylight hours, and was at the whims of Iraq's fickle national power grid. Which meant soldiers or civilians who were wounded at night or during a blackout had to be turned away to make a potentially perilous journey to another facility.
In the few weeks since the system has been in operation, the solar system has already made a difference. "A few weeks ago, there was an explosion out on the street (in Ameriyah) that the insurgents were trying to set up; it went off early, and two civilians were actually injured in the blast," said Capt. Michael Nau, a joint project management officer with 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Multi-National Division. He continued:
"Instead of trying to take them someplace else, like another clinic or another hospital, they were able to bring them to the closest care facility to be treated, which is the Ameriyah Clinic, at hours the clinic would normally be closed. That's a victory right there; that's exactly what we wanted to get out of this project."
US Soldiers and Iraqi engineer at ribbon cutting ceremony
One particularly inspiring part of this story is that the groundbreaking project was conceived and executed almost entirely by local Iraqis, and was overseen by soldiers in the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Multi-National Division. As Capt. Nau said, "Coalition involvement in this project was actually very minimal . . . This is an Iraqi-planned, Iraqi-led operation from start to finish."
Tapping the Solar Power Potential
Solar power is an ideal technology for sun-drenched Iraq. Mahdi Johnny, the electrical engineer who was the advisor for the installation of the project, said, "In Baghdad we have, on average, 10 hours of sunlight on a daily basis. What we are getting out of these rechargeable batteries is about 72 hours of power for every 10 hours of sun."
The clinic now operates 24 hours a day, and can now keep vital medications and medical supplies requiring constant refrigeration onsite. And since the clinic serves around 500,000 people in the area, these advances mark a huge step forward in medical services for Iraqis and help further the urban renewal of Baghdad.
More on Solar Power in Iraq:
No Renewable Power for Coalition Forces in Iraq?
Solar - Powered Street Lights to Illuminate Parts of Baghdad