Tripura has become an inspiration to other states in the Northeast region to go green and make the entire region an even more eco-friendly region in the country. There are many health institutions in Tripura situated in difficult and remote areas, and uninterrupted power supply is one of the main constraints to provide smooth service delivery at labor room, in-patient room, and for maintaining cold chain as well. In Tripura, due to hilly terrain, transmission lines are disturbed in rainy and stormy seasons. Various preventive, primitive, and cultural health services are provided and maternal activities, child health services, good diagnosis services, and operation facilities on small scale are also available in the health establishments. But due to the frequent disturbance of grid conventional power, the services are hampered and the rural people face acute problem with the patients for their treatment.
Meeting power-supply challenges at health facilities is very important for ensuring quality-healthcare services. Power cuts in hospitals can have serious consequences. Although such failures are not a common occurrence in the state, but sometimes they present a risk, which all healthcare institutions must be prepared for. Therefore, the Health and Family Welfare Department has embarked on an innovative initiative to ensure uninterrupted power supply for improved performance for all health institutions.
Deployment of solar photovoltaic power plant facilities has been undertaken by the state government in different government hospitals (district hospitals, sub-divisional hospitals, and community health centers/primary health centers) in phases to overcome the power-cut period and to provide uninterrupted power supply to rural and semi-urban health establishments. There were two main objectives for installation of alternative solar-power system in all the functioning health institutions of Tripura: hot-water-treatment system within the health institution; and uninterrupted power supply in the health institution (alternative power backup) to the cold-chain system, wards, and labor room.
Commissioning of solar photovoltaic power plants began its journey in 2014-15 in collaboration with Tripura Renewable Energy Development Agency (TREDA) under Science & Technology Department, Government of Tripura. Commissioning the Phase-I of the project was completed in 90 primary health centers and 6 community health centers (5 KWp SPV power plants, 6 CHCs, 10 KWp SPV power plants in 11 CHCs, 10 KWp SPV power plants in 13 sub-divisional hospitals, and 25 KWp SPV power plants in 3 district hospitals). Electrical connections from these power plants have been extended to patient wards, labor room, cold chain system, laboratory room, emergency, computers, and so on. Phase-II of installation has also covered the rest of the health institutions of Tripura.
Continuity of power is of vital importance within a hospital or a healthcare facility, where an interruption in the operation of equipment could put patients’ lives at risk. Deployment of solar photovoltaic power plant facility in different government hospitals has made it possible to provide uninterrupted power supply, which is beneficial for patients admitted in the hospital and for pregnant mothers to deliver newborn in the labor room. Shifting of vaccines from ice-line refrigerator (ILR) was a challenge due to power cut; now alternative power supply has made it possible to maintain cold chain and proper temperature of ILR for vaccination. This project has improved quality-immunization services at all health facilities. This project has facilitated to get hot water, which is made available 24×7 for all patients admitted in the indoor patient department.
While the entire world is moving toward green-energy solutions, solar technology is becoming more readily available. Solar power installations and spare parts are much cheaper now than they were 10 years ago, and the prices are expected to come down further with scale in future. The solar photovoltaic power plant of Tripura is a state-of-the-art innovation, and it is scalable and certainly a solution for green power, which may be replicated in other states, subject to local context.