Healthcare electrification trends

©Solar Energy Foundation Ethiopia

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare electrification initiatives have seen robust growth, with a notable focus on smaller and rural health centres and a shift towards larger, more comprehensive power solutions.

Healthcare electrification gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic and activity levels have remained high compared to pre-2020 levels. The annual growth rate in electrification initiatives between 2018 and 2021 averaged 47%, gaining unprecedented prominence on the international stage, as governments and development partners rallied to ensure adequate and reliable power supply to medical facilities grappling with the demands of treating COVID-19 patients. While the number of newly electrified healthcare facilities declined in 2022, it remained high when compared to pre-2020 levels.

The provision of power solutions has consistently been the most common type of initiative related to healthcare electrification, commanding an average share of 38% between 2018 and 2023. Needs assessments accounted for almost one fifth of all initiatives, followed by technical assistance and feasibility studies at 17% and 16%, respectively. Furthermore, 82% of electrification initiatives have opted for stand-alone solar technology, reflecting its popularity as a reliable and sustainable energy source. Among mini-grid options, hybrid mini-grids have emerged as a more frequent choice by implementers, compared to solar mini-grids. An increasing trend of making grid connections to power healthcare facilities has been observed over the years, with a notable acceleration observed from 2022 onwards.

More organizations are opting for restricted procurement. This approach involves relying on specialists while following a fair and open tender process. It allows for the acceleration of project progression, enabling faster execution of healthcare electrification initiatives while enhancing the understanding of costs for better budgeting.

The duration of healthcare electrification initiatives is decreasing. The healthcare electrification landscape has seen a decline in the average duration of initiatives across different facility types. This reduction can be attributed to streamlined processes and increased data availability, allowing for the deployment of more standardized solutions. However, the shorter duration of these initiatives indicates that provision for operations and maintenance (O&M) may lack a long-term perspective. Looking ahead, the emerging emphasis on the energy service company (ESCO) model suggests that we can anticipate a marked increase in the duration of health facility initiatives, reflecting the inherently long-term orientation of these projects.

Collaboration between energy and health stakeholders is improving, but further progress is required. Collaborative global efforts, such as the Health and Energy Platform of Action and the Multilateral Energy Compact for Health Facility Electrification, have been instrumental in bridging the health and energy sectors to advance healthcare electrification. While these global initiatives have made significant progress, there remains a pressing need for enhanced coordination at the country level to ensure optimal resource utilization.

Recognizing the diverse energy needs of healthcare facilities, 53% of electrification initiatives now prioritize conducting needs assessments before project implementation. Different healthcare tiers, from health posts to regional hospitals, have varied energy requirements influenced by factors like medical services provided, equipment, staffing, local health challenges and even seasonal climate conditions. Such assessments ensure that energy provisions align with the specific needs of each facility, considering services, staff and equipment.

Data-driven decision-making is becoming paramount  in healthcare electrification. Historically, the absence of comprehensive geographic information system (GIS) health facility data has posed challenges. However, advancements in spatial tools and big data processing are transforming the landscape. Decisionmakers are leveraging geospatial technology to bridge data gaps and prioritize electrification initiatives. Remote monitoring technologies are also being integrated into healthcare electrification initiatives, providing real-time data on service quality.

Stakeholders are beginning to realize the importance of capacity building. Effective healthcare electrification requires strong in-house capabilities within government departments. However, many governments lack the capacity for tasks such as site evaluation and oversight of bidding processes. A notable challenge is the misconception that solar power is free, often due to the prevalence of donorfunded installations. This can lead to reluctance in allocating budgets for ongoing maintenance, jeopardizing project sustainability.

Climate finance emerges as a promising avenue for funding health facility electrification, aligning with broader sustainable development goals and climate change mitigation. As sectors increasingly tap into climate finance mechanisms, healthcare electrification can benefit from dedicated funds, renewable energy certificates (RECs), grants and concessional loans. This not only ensures sustainable electricity supply for healthcare, but also resilience and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.


Excerpt of: “State of the Market Report for Healthcare Facility Electrification, Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), 2024″


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