We are minimizing the use of diesel generators. Diesel fuel supply lines in many of the World Bank client countries are strained even during normal times, and are expected to worsen under pandemic conditions. Hospitals with diesel generators also often find it difficult to pay for diesel fuel even when it is available. Because COVID19 is a respiratory disease, diesel smoke also makes symptoms worse and death rates higher. The appropriate role for diesel is only as a backup, with the bulk of electricity provided more affordably by solar panels or grid power where available.
Wherever possible, we are working with local renewable energy companies to use local inventory to build these systems because it is faster and also provides a lifeline to these companies that have been hard hit by pandemic-related downturns in business. Where local inventory or capacity is inadequate, we are coordinating in parallel with UNOPS and international companies that can deliver rapidly-deployable “box” solutions, often built into standard shipping containers. Building in sustainability is crucial, so contracts are written to ensure operations and maintenance in the medium term and require that developers and operators of these facilities develop and implement plans that address long run sustainability, such as transitioning systems become the backbone of financially self-sustaining community mini grids.
In the process, the Bank is collaborating in unprecedented ways across health, energy and water and with departments of client governments. Some of the ingredients in these new responses include rapidly adapting cloud-based procurement and monitoring platforms, geospatial datasets of vulnerable populations, component inventories matched with needs revealed by medical facility surveys, and streamlined procurement documents and technical standards worked on around the clock and across the globe as we race against the pandemic.