PV Vaccine Refrigerators

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PV vaccine refrigerators, (PVVR) an early application of solar electricity, are being used to maintain the cold chain required by vaccines in rural off grid health facilities. Under the WHO -EPI program, numerous health facilities in the East African region have benefited from PV and LPG powered vaccine refrigerators. This created a constant demand that was a driving force for PV industry in the region.

Typical PV refrigeration systems consist of a PV array, system controller, a battery bank (deep discharge) and a special vaccine refrigerator (NB other refrigerators specially built for use with PV exist in the market).

Because of the strict WHO standards on manufacture and installation, and high attention to maintenance, a very large proportion of vaccine refrigerators remain operational even under the adverse conditions of remote sites.

The major private sector players in the African region under this scheme have been NAPS (now Fortum) and BP solar working as sub-contracts under multilateral funded WHO-EPI schemes. There are currently more than 1,200 vaccine refrigerators installed in off grid locations in the IGAD region. Figures indicate more than 450 in Kenya, 300 in Uganda, 10 in Djibouti, 100 in Ethiopia and more than 20 in Sudan.

The Uganda EPI program is touted as a regional success PVVR model. Units had a reported payback period of less than 2 years. In Uganda PVVRs are, in many situations more economically attractive, not to mention much cleaner, than kerosene refrigerators, which are the only other serious alternative


A vaccine refrigerator in a rural Maasai hospital


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