A seven million dollar solar panel installed at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research at the University of Ghana (UG) is generating adequate power for the operations of the institute.
The 715-kilowatt solar plant, with 3,046 panels, often generates excess power, especially during weekends and public holidays when the biomedical research institute is not fully operational.
Consequently, the excess power generated by the two-phased project is always offloaded onto the national grid to support the UG and the entire country.
The project was funded by the Japanese government in 2013 to support the institute’s research work.
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The Director of the Institute, Professor Kwabena Annan, said in March this year that the project generated 4098 kWh.
He made this known last Monday, when a team of officials from the institute, the UG’s School of Engineering Sciences and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and CLUE Drone Technology Company, Japan assessed the performance of the project through the use of a drone last Monday. The project has a lifespan of 25 years.
Prof. Annan stated that as a biomedical research institute, laboratory tests conducted at the centre required a lot of reagents, materials and disease pathogens that needed to be stored properly.
He said the institute had many refrigerators and freezers that needed low temperatures of between -80 and -196 degrees Celsius to perform and that it required “a lot of energy supply”.
“So it is wonderful that we got this special project as a gift from Japan that has also provided the technologies to monitor the amount of power we generate to feed the institute and the excess going to the grid,” the director stated.
According to him, the institute was a flagship biomedical research institute whose importance and roles transcended Ghana.
“When there are emerging and re-emerging diseases such as Ebola, Lassa Fever and Yellow Fever, this institute is the first to provide the technical support to the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to address the problems,” he said.
The Dean of the School of Engineering Sciences of the UG, Prof. Boateng Onwona-Agyeman, said the use of drone technology, equipped with an infrared camera that could scan and detect defects on the panels that were not visible to human eye within the shortest possible time, was significant in the maintenance of the facility.