The photo above was published earlier this month by the Ukrainian Health ministry, stating that surgeons in Lviv had to continue operating a child’s heart after the power had run out after yet another Russian bombing. Many similar photos and videos have emerged since.
Diesel generators are keeping the lights on in Lviv, Kyiv and around Ukaine as Russia keeps on bombing innocents. Recently, free nations around the world have stepped up and are now sending dozens of generators to Ukraine.
This is commendable and praise worthy. Yet I believe that a better and cleaner solution is available to help these heroes keep on doing their lifesaving work in the best conditions possible.
Diesel generators are very inefficient and generally use 0,4 litre – 13.5 liquid ounces – of diesel for every single kWh produced. Given how much energy hospitals and clinics use, it’s safe to say that thousands of litres of dirty diesel would be needed every week if power cuts were to keep on occuring. This is very expensive.
Additionally, as EnergyEducation.ca noted ” Diesel generators produce carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx), and particulate matter. These generators release this into the atmosphere and substantially reduce air quality in the nearby regions. Every litre of fuel has 0.73 kg of pure carbon, 2.6 kg of carbon dioxide released per liter of diesel fuel.”
So using diesel generators may be very welcome, but they produce a lot of air pollution and greenhouse gases and are thus not the best solution to provide local electricity generation.
Containerized solar PV and energy storage are a better alternative to diesel generators.
Solar photovoltaic panels, supplemented with energy storage, may need larger sums of money to be set up, but are better and much cheaper and in the long run. This can generate electricity on site, thus making hospitals less prone to blackouts. Solar is now highly competitive and thus allow medical infrastructures to save money for the next three decades if not for even longer.
Plenty of containerized solar photovoltaic solutions already exist and can be deployed very rapidly. A single container has enough panels for 70 kWp of capacity. This can generate every year 76,000 kWh of clean electricity in Kyiv or 85,000 kWh in Kherson (Source : my own calculations on Global Solar Atlas).
Likewise, containerized batteries and energy storage now abound and use various technologies, from the regular ion-lithium to more advanced redox flow solutions. Am sure more than a company or country would be proud to ship one of their products to help save lives.
I understand that right now anything helps and that diesel generators are a godsent for Ukraine. However I believe that solar photovoltaic and batteries would be a far better, healthier, cleaner alternative to help power medical infrastructures today, tomorrow and in the long run.
Solar + batteries can stabilize a grid for decades. Diesel generators can’t. And Ukraine will be rebuilding for months if not years after this war is over and Russia has been defeated.
Just a short note : the war is still raging in Ukraine. Vital infrastructure is being bombed daily. If you can support this great country and its population, please donate : UNITED24 for defence and demining, medical aid or to rebuild Ukraine. An example of this is the Trostyanets town hospital.
Photo credits : Twitter, Defense of Ukraine.