The sun has been known to work overtime in Iraq by creating dry, hot summers and long, sun-drenched days.
In order to help the Iraqi Ministry of Health provide for the citizens of the Ghazaliyah neighborhood, located in northwest Baghdad, the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team “Dagger,” 1st Infantry Division, Multi-National Divisionâ€”Baghdad decided to take advantage of the sun’s rays.
The solar-powered New Iraqi clinic in northern Ghazaliyah, which provides for about 300 people a day, was reopened in a ceremony, Sept. 16.
The clinic, which used to receive an average of two hours of power per day because of the strain on the national power grid, gets its energy from the sun and receives power all day and all night.
“It’s important because this system that we’ve installed will power this clinic continuously whether or not the national grid is working,” said Bristol, Conn. native, Maj. Andrew Attar, joint project management officer, 2nd HBCT. “It gives the community here that utilizes this clinic healthcare 24/7.”
The clinic is the third and final solar-powered clinic project for the Dagger Brigade, which is scheduled to redeploy to Fort Riley, Kan. this month.
“It actually started well over a year ago when the brigade that preceded us ended up trying to put a power clinic in Ameriyah, a location that was isolated. It was a great clinic there but it needed consistent power,” said Col. Joseph Martin, commander of the Dagger Brigade. “From that we have learned and placed two separate systems in the Dahkel Clinic in Hurriyah and this one, the New Iraq Clinic in Ghazaliyah.”
Because the clinic is totally powered by the sun, vaccines can stay refrigerated and the air conditioner can take away some of the stress of the heat while patients are waiting to be treated.
“Even if it’s cloudy for the next three days, the system that we have emplaced here will still allow this clinic to have power 24 hours a day,” Martin said. “It allows the doctors to focus on their patients instead of focusing on what is supporting them in the system.”
Because the solar-powered clinics were well-received by the people, the Dagger Brigade placed solar-powered street lights in northwest Baghdad and Abu Ghraib to keep markets opened longer and are working on a solar-powered courthouse in Abu Ghraib.
Attar said there has been much success with the solar-powered streetlights.
“The street lights we’ve found to be extremely effective. It keeps families and people out at night shopping, socializing and it promotes safe neighborhoods,” he said. “When you have light at night the change is remarkable. People are out eating out at restaurants, they’re out shopping at night; kids are out playing in the streets. It makes the streets safer.”
As the government of Iraq continues to build a more efficient relationship with the people of Baghdad, solar-powered technology remains as an advantageous way to do business.
“The people of Baghdad have benefited greatly from our learning with this technology,” said Martin. “This allows them to have a continuous amount of power throughout the day or night.”
Story by Sgt. Dustin Roberts