microgrid COVID-19
ABOVE: Inside the Matamoros Migrant Camp mobile medical ICU. Image credit: SimpliPhi

Lithium-ion energy storage specialists SimpliPhi Power has partnered with non-profit Footprint Project to supply and deliver a clean energy microgrid field hospital for the Matamoros migrant camp in Mexico. The hospital is on the US border to power the camp’s first mobile medical ICU to treat COVID-19 patients.

The camp is comprised of approximately 3,000 asylum seekers living in overcrowded tents with little infrastructure and no access to basic medical care or hygiene, enhancing the threat of COVID-19 contagion.

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SimpliPhi’s 3.8kWh PHI batteries are part of a containerized mobile solar and energy storage trailer that serves as a primary power source for the ICU. The ‘pop-up’ ICU provides 20 beds with both diagnostic and treatment-ready medical equipment with an HVAC system to deliver temperature control for the two-tent clinic.

The renewable energy microgrid is critical given the remote location of the mobile ICU clinic within the migrant camp. Additionally, the microgrid provides critical power with clean air, instead of the toxic fumes from the exhaust generated by diesel or gas generators, which would serve to further exacerbate the respiratory condition of patients already struggling to fight off COVID-19 infections.

The mobile clean energy microgrid also supports significant savings for the Global Response Management (GRM) team, the NGO that is operating the facility and providing free medical care to the migrants.  As first responders coordinating care, the solar + PHI storage allows GRM to dedicate its resources to providing critical and quality medical care instead of deferring precious funding to monthly fuel costs averaging $2,000 that would have been necessary if the ICU was powered by a diesel generator.  

Footprint Project is also building capacity at the camp by training staff and volunteers on how to operate and maintain the microgrid independently.

“COVID-19 knows no border, affecting all nationalities regardless of whether people live in a permanent dwelling or a tent,” said SimpliPhi Power CEO Catherine Von Burg. “Renewable energy microgrids for humanitarian needs like the Matamoros migrant camp can play a critical role during this global pandemic, ensuring reliable, uninterrupted access to clean power, allowing medical teams to focus on treatment and medicine, not purchasing fuel over medical supplies.”

“Thank you to the Mexican government for helping us to provide this critical clean-air microgrid and associated medical equipment to the Matamoros migrant camp. We appreciate their support and efforts to ensure asylum seekers have access to medical care to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” shared Will Heegaard, founder and director of Footprint Project. 

Beyond Matamoros, SimpliPhi Power and its partners are deploying portable and containerized microgrids in the United States and around the world as part of the COVID-19 emergency response effort to provide clean energy security to hospitals and clinics on the frontlines battling the pandemic.