Clinic Electrification Project

Rebecca Alcock, PhD student in Industrial and Systems Engineering, Analytics for Human Development Lab

Energy poverty, defined as insufficient access to modern energy sources, poses one of the largest threats to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. Inadequate energy access deprives more than 700 million people around the world of educational and income-generating opportunities and endangers their physical and mental health. Thus, meeting SDG #7 Affordable and Clean Energy for all is vital for fulfilling most SDGs, particularly #1 No Poverty and #3 Good Health and Wellbeing. Moreover, SDG #3 will remain out of reach until energy poverty in health facilities is eradicated. Effective healthcare provision, from recordkeeping to administering lifesaving treatments, requires reliable access to electricity. Without it, the consequences for providers and patients are disruptive at best and deadly at worst.

To address this, we are investigating a vehicle-to-microgrid (V2μG) system that will equip health clinics in low- and middle-income countries with the electricity needed to keep them running, while enabling mobile health services via access to electric bicycles and motorbikes. Currently, we are developing a mathematical framework to optimize the higher-level design of system (e.g., how many kW should the microgrid be capable of producing, how many vehicles are required, etc.) such that in unfavorable weather conditions or during times of disaster, a Minimum Viable Clinic is always electrified, and in favorable conditions, the clinic can offer a full array of health services, both on-site and mobile. This research is motivated by a partnership with the rural community of Tezhumke in the Carribean region of Colombia, where we are working to conduct a pilot of the V2μG system.

We are proud of the extensive network of collaborators that this project has brought together. Special thanks to:

Many thanks to the following groups for funding the work thus far: UW GHI Graduate Research Award, UW GHI Planetary Health Scholars, Morgridge Center for Public Service, UW Fall Research Competition.