The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) organised the international conference on Renewable Energy Solutions for Healthcare Facilities in Singapore on 2 November 2018 immediately after the 4th International Off-Grid Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition (IOREC). It is estimated that over a billion people rely on healthcare facilities without access to adequate electricity supply. While most large hospitals have round-the-clock access to power, electrification rates drop dramatically for rural clinics. In the absence of reliable power, many of the basic life-saving interventions cannot be undertaken safely or at all.

In this context, off-grid renewable energy solutions present a key opportunity to provide clean, reliable and cost-effective electricity to rural health centers, which can dramatically transform the quality of healthcare services provided to rural communities. In particular, the dramatic cost reductions and technological improvement of renewable energy technologies in the past decade make renewables an economically and technically viable solution that can be rapidly deployed.

Several successful examples of renewable-based systems powering rural health clinics have already had a broad transformative impact on the quality of life of rural communities. However, a more widespread deployment of off-grid solutions for health centers is often hampered by institutional barriers and gaps of policy and financial nature.

Harnessing the enormous potential of renewable energy to improve energy access for rural healthcare facilities requires a combined action from the health and energy sectors. To this end, the international conference on Renewable Energy Solutions for Healthcare Facilities brought together key energy and health sector stakeholders, including policy-makers, practitioners, financial institutions, development partners, and NGOs that can play a role in enhancing electricity access for rural healthcare facilities in low-income areas. The conference was a unique opportunity to discuss challenges to the deployment of renewables for health centers, present successful case studies and identify technical, regulatory, policy, and financial options which can accelerate the deployment of renewable energy to the benefit of poor rural communities.

Key messages that emerged from the conference:

  • Health facilities should be a high priority in electrification plans among both national governments and development partners. Off-grid renewables offer rapidly deployable, reliable, cost-effective solutions.
  • Addressing the energy need in healthcare facilities requires increased co-operation between the energy and health sectors, including ministries of energy and health. This should happen at all levels, from strategy and planning to policies, budgeting, procurement and implementation.
  • Capital and recurring expenses related to electricity should be budgeted as part of healthcare facility operations from the outset. Budgeting should also reflect costs for operation and maintenance, such as battery replacement.
  • Strong collaboration between private, public and non-governmental institutions has proven a key success factor for healthcare electrification in certain African and South-Asian countries. Such partnerships should be encouraged.
  • There is a need for innovation in delivery and financing models. Dedicated support and financing schemes, and energy service agreements, can help accelerate electrification of rural health centres.
  • Aggregation models, with proximal health facilities grouped together on a shared energy service contract, could bring down costs and facilitate maintenance.
  • Innovation has to be encouraged and promoted across the value chain, including in the design of robust, low-maintenance, efficient, user-friendly medical devices suited for use in remote off-grid areas.
  • Energy-efficient medical devices, combined with off-grid renewable energy and telecommunications, can expand the services offered by primary health centres in under-served communities. This also reduces the need for patients to travel to larger, more distant facilities.
  • A local ecosystem must be created to ensure the long-term sustainability of renewable energy systems. This includes training staff and maintenance technicians in rural areas.
  • Electrifying rural health centres strengthens staff recruitment and retention, further improving the reliability and continuity of rural medical devices.

These outcomes are summarised in IRENA’s healthcare conference flyer.


Click here for detailed programme agenda.

                              Download the full conference programme and speaker biographies here

08:00 - 09:15
09:15 - 09:30
09:30 - 10:45
10:45 - 11:15
11:15 - 12:30
12:30 - 14:00
14:00 - 15:15
15:15 - 15:45
15:45 - 17:00
17:00 - 17:15

Speakers & Bios

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Director-General IRENA

Honorable Member of Parliament Malawi

Clinical Applications Manager GE Healthcare

General Manager Ergon Peru - Tozzi Green

Senior Manager, Energy Access WRI India

Former Executive Director Alternative Energy Promotion Centre Nepal

Senior Research Associate Council on Energy, Environment and Water

Co-Founder SELCO Foundation

Lead Designer SELCO Foundation

CEO SunFarmer Nepal

Associate Director Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI)

Assistant Vice President, Head New Business Development Godrej Sure Chill

Director of Clean Energy Winrock International

Senior Director, Energy and Climate at United Nations Foundation United Nations Foundation

CEO International Alliance of Patients’ Organisations

Executive Director, Co-Founder We Care Solar

Senior Manager CLASP

Founder and Honorary Secretary Karuna Trust

Associate Director The Rockefeller Foundation

Founder Enrupt

Managing Partner Trama TecnoAmbiental

Head, Partnerships and Technical Advisory Services IRENA

Assistant General Manager Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission Nigeria

Getting to the venue

Marina Bay Sands is linked directly to Bayfront MRT Station (CE1/DT16) along the Circle Line/Downtown Line.

By Public Bus

Monday- Sunday: 97/97E, 106, 133, 502/502A, 518/518A
Friday, Saturday: NR1, NR6

Valet Parking

Available at Hotel Tower 1 and Casino Entrance (Accessible to cars only).