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GBE Benin, A2EI and Odyssey Partner for Automated Monitoring of Solar PV Systems at Health Centers

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German solar off-grid R&D platform Access to Energy Institute (A2EI) has signed a deal with cleantech company Odyssey Energy Solutions to monitor the state of electricity access at the health centers in Benin. Both organizations will carry out automated monitoring of the operation of solar PV systems installed in these healthcare facilities.

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The new partnership was signed under the initiative of Green People’s Energy (GBE). The GBE, launched by the German Development Agency (GIZ) and KfW Development Bank, supports decentralized renewable energy systems in rural regions of sub-Saharan Africa. The partnership is also supported by the Beninese Agency for Health Infrastructure, Equipment, and Maintenance (AISEM).

According to several surveys carried out by the GBE in Benin during 2020-21, more than 69% of the solar PV systems installed in Benin’s healthcare facilities in the past five years prior were malfunctioning or no longer working. Although much focus was put on installing solar systems at these health facilities, less attention was placed on their maintenance.

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Most solar PV systems fail due to the lack of proper maintenance, and the social infrastructure lacks the financial or technical capacity to repair faulty systems. Even if the maintenance contracts are signed with private operators, government agencies find it difficult to monitor the maintenance of these systems. To solve this drawback, several organizations are pooling their skills in order to ensure the monitoring of these solar PV systems via digital technology. 

The recent partnership commenced between A2EI, Odyssey, and the GBE Benin is gathering necessary data to monitor the solar PV systems and ensure their longevity. They have begun their activities by installing 20 smart loggers (sensors) at 10 on-grid and 10 off-grid health infrastructures to record real-time data on the electricity supply systems.

The data is gathered by the data platform named Prospect, a collaboration between A2EI and GET.invest, and ingested by Odyssey, delivering data-driven insights to government stakeholders, private operators, and several funders. Visualizations on the A2EI/GET.invest and Odyssey platforms will help in analyzing the entire portfolio of solar PV systems installed at these health centers.

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According to Odyssey, as an extension to the current work, discussions are underway for the installation of a second wave of data loggers in remote on-grid and off-grid healthcare facilities. These smart sensors are expected to provide an essential service to the operation of solar systems, enabling rural hospitals to improve care for the people.

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