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Solar Panels Donated by Arizona Test Lab Bring Light to Rural Tanzanian Clinics

More than 150,000 people now have access to clean and safe renewable energy amid the rural landscape of Tanzania, Africa, thanks to a generous donation of 200 solar panels by TÜV Rheinland PTL, LLC, part of the world’s largest solar and photovoltaic testing network.  The recycled modules are being installed by SolarAid, a British charity determined to reduce global poverty and climate change through solar energy. 

To date, SolarAid has installed 70 of the donated solar modules onto the roofs of 14 health facilities in the Iringa region of central Tanzania.  According to SolarAid (www.solar-aid.org), the modules produce 12.6 KW of power for the structures, which serve an estimated 154,586 people. SolarAid plans to set up the remaining 130 modules onto 22 – 27 health facilities and clinics in Iringa, Ludewa, Makete, and Kiwango over the next year.

“The donation from TÜV Rheinland PTL is enabling us to have a direct and positive impact on rural Tanzanian communities, which do not benefit from grid electricity. Together with these communities, SolarAid designs systems that improve the services available at key institutions, such as bringing light to rural health centers that serve villages for miles around,” said John Keane, Head of Programmes at SolarAid.

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TÜV Rheinland PTL has been donating modules to individuals and organizations for 12 years. These modules no longer have commercial value after completing a cycle of qualification and engineering testing at TÜV Rheinland PTL’s photovoltaic testing laboratory in Tempe, Arizona. Per an agreement with the manufacturers, TÜV Rheinland PTL recycles the tested panels for educational or nonprofit purposes, primarily to expand awareness and share the benefits of renewable energy. 

 “We are very happy to see our donated solar photovoltaic modules being used to help the Tanzanian communities,” said Dr. Govindasamy Tamizhmani, president of TÜV Rheinland PTL. “I strongly believe that solar photovoltaics will soon become a major contributor of electricity in developing countries.”

Over 85 percent of Tanzanians have no access to electricity, primarily relying on wood and charcoal for cooking, kerosene and candles for lighting, and disposable batteries for radios and other handheld electrical devices. More than one-third of the population lives below the national poverty line, further limiting their ability to attain clean, safe and reliable forms of energy. 

According to SolarAid, many of the health facilities have been using battery-powered torches as examination lights and illuminating rooms with dimly lit kerosene-filled tins.  With solar energy, the clinics have expanded to a 24-hour operation and increased their ability to save lives and reduce illness. 

Among the immediate benefits of switching to solar energy is the elimination of kerosene from homes and clinics alike.  Kerosene fumes emit a toxic smoke that, when inhaled, can lead to a lethal respiratory disease – among the leading causes of death in Tanzania.  The World Bank says breathing in kerosene fumes is like smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. 

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The donated modules were made by a variety of manufacturers including Soluxia; Canadian Solar Inc; Mitsubishi; Boading Tainwei; MSK; Suntech; Brightwatts; Schott; Shell; BP Solar; Evergreen; Solarfun; Sunpower; and Solar World.

For more information, visit www.tuvptl.com or call TÜVRheinland® at 1-TUV-RHEINLAND (888-743-4652).

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