Renewable Energy in Vaccine Supply Chain

Published by Ariel Arcebido on

Renewable Energy in the vaccine supply change

Renewable Energy in the vaccine supply chain could be the answer to keeping vaccines preserved during transportation. It meets the required coordination with logistics providers and the ability to sustain the cold chain process. It is crucial to the success of immunization programs. The efficient use of the systems is what keeps the delivery of the medical product successful. This requires that vaccines are stored in a cold chain at all times during storage and transport. Starting from the manufacturer warehouse up to remote health centers. The distribution of vaccines is now a critical success factor in the best-optimized systems of global processes.

Many countries are still experiencing failures in vaccine distribution due to unreliable shipments. Access to transport is poorly made, and cold vaccine storage is not always monitored as the volume and value of temperature-sensitive medicines are increasing in the world. Urgent solutions to address supply chain challenges in these countries is a must.

An experiment was conducted to demonstrate how renewable energy for vaccine supply chain increase the energy efficiency of the distribution of vaccines and temperature-sensitive drugs. Known as the ‘net-zero energy’ (NZE) supply chain were introduced within the first year of operation. 

Net annual Usage= ZERO
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‘Net zero energy’ (NZE) was conceptualized to raise buildings and processes’ energy efficiency. This cut energy consumption and waste by creating sufficient renewable energy on-site. Reducing the consumption of grid electricity.

The goal is to show a high energy-efficient storage and delivery system for vaccines based on the NZE idea of ‘net-zero energy’ (NZE). The use of renewable energy in the vaccine supply chain minimizes harmful effects on the environment by reducing carbon emissions. This application is set in selecting actions that maximize the distribution system.

The NZE method raised concern in countries where energy costs can stipend the maintenance of public health services. The existing distribution system was transformed to store vaccines. Transporting them according to pre-scheduled and optimized delivery circuits.

In these countries, the cold chain process is less than stellar. NZE can reduce energy costs and release the budget to other needs of service delivery. while also optimizing the supply chain.

In Tunisia, energy costs are at an all-time high, and plenty of sunlight. They switched to renewable energy and encourage the proliferation of the solar industry. The country’s Ministry of Health participated in Optimize project to use this approach to the vaccine supply cold chain.

Electric utility vehicles transporting medical goods enhanced the reliability of the supply chains. Solar energy supplied all energy requirements for storage, cooling, and transportation.

The implementation proceeded in four stages.

Solar photovoltaic modules installed.

Installing roof-mounted solar panels to cut the usage of the leading electrical grid at centers. Putting together the storage and transport for vaccines increases the supply handling efficiency. and medicines and moving the stores under one roof. The use of the electric vehicle for pre-planned supply trips assured efficient routes. All the while reducing energy costs.

Installing solar rooftop systems to meet the energy demand of vaccine storage facilities and transport. This includes electric vehicle charging, space cooling, refrigeration, lighting, and computing. In case of failure in solar energy generation, it is backed-up by drawing electricity from the grid. The installations at all sites were inspected and certified by the ANME.

Design of the distribution system

The NZE project revised the distribution of vaccines in two ways. First, vaccines and medicines were initially stored separately before the project. Then relocated under one storage facility and delivered simultaneously, using one vehicle.

Second, the old mixed collection and delivery trips were directed to ‘deliveries-only’ using optimized delivery circuits and combining supply with supervision. The system copied similar trials in Africa and South-East Asia and show the system can enhance both supply and the quality of supervision. Following standard operating procedures to operate the system using electric utility vehicles. The vehicle returned each evening for an overnight charge from the grid at the regional or district storage facility.

Monitoring and evaluation

During the implementation, monitoring systems were placed to collect data needed to evaluate. Sensors measured solar irradiance, ambient air temperature, power produced, electricity consumed, space cooling, refrigeration, lighting, and computing. The data was downloaded via the Internet to a central server in real-time. Energy consumption was analyzed and compared to the baseline energy assessments.

The assessment was based on the method used in the effective vaccine management (EVM) assessment tool of WHO. It measures supply chain performance in nine categories, with a target score of 80% for each. Additionally, interviews were conducted to analyze perceptions and appreciation of the NZE demonstration. One manager and eight staff were chosen on the feasibility of renewable energy in the vaccine supply chain experiment.

The end-results of the NZE in the quality and costs of distribution were reduced. The cost of electricity was minimized, and the carbon footprint was down to nil. Even when the initial capital cost of implementing the NZE remains high today, this will reduce the cost of solar energy and electric vehicles for the next 7–10 years.

Impact of NZE system on energy costs

The new energy consumption for the storage and transport method was reduced by 20.16% at the regional level and by 20.50% at the district level. Only storage consumption appears to increase 50% at the district level with the NZE revisions. This is due to the increased energy consumption when vaccines and medicines were moved. Before the implementation of the NZE system, transportation took about 60% of total energy costs. Thus, it would change diesel and petrol vehicles to electric for delivery vaccine distribution.

Switching to electric transport brought two efficiency benefits. The first was due to an attribute of the technology, and the second is due to changes in the management of distribution.

• Technological: 

The electrical costs per 100 km for electric vehicles were 2.71 US $ based on the consumption of charging the vehicles. This cost is already 69% less than the fuel cost of the old 4WD vehicles used at regional district levels in Kasserine. Also, compare that to the 2WD diesel-powered vehicle, the saving would be 54%. This is due to the NZE project using energy to charge the vehicles by the solar-powered system. Thus, there are no excessive energy costs for the transport of vaccines, medicines, and supervision.

• Managerial

The schedule of delivery routes for vaccines using electric vehicles optimized the traveled distance. Thus, avoided unnecessary journeys to pick up the vaccines.

EVM Indicator
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Application of the net-zero energy to storage and transport of vaccines offers many benefits even in the absence of other factors:

• Energy audits.

• Grid-linked solar energy generation.

• Reducing recurrent energy costs of distribution.

• Reduction in carbon ‘footprint’.

The net-zero energy intervention is compatible with managerial optimization of the supply chain for vaccines and medicines by:

• Establishing a delivery-based distribution, uniting supply, and supervision on a reliable schedule at a minimal energy cost.

• Raising the standard of sustainability in the system by integrating the supply chain for vaccines and medicines.

Solar panels of Uniliver
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Qualitative assessment of health staff opinions

All the staff involved reported that the NZE intervention was better than the old method. Only eight participants say that the NZE was very acceptable. Respondents reported that accessibility of the electric vehicles increased the efficiency of distribution and improved vaccine handling.

The costs of transporting vaccines and medicines covered the majority of the assessment. Followed by the combined cost of heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration. The use of air conditioning in all districts, including Foussana, was low at the baseline, reflecting little use of this equipment. Some required repairs and no longer in use, but for others, the reasons were unknown.


This demonstration shows the advantages of applying the net-zero energy principles. NZE intervention system better results in maximizing the current system. This is compared to the handling of vaccines of other selected managerial interventions. The project affected net-zero energy on energy consumption and energy cost. The combined results show an improvement measured against the other method.

A credible economic argument is the only missing factor in the rationale for the implementation of net-zero energy. Also, the only obstacle in getting the capital investment against wholesale savings in energy. Given that the cost of solar energy and the prospects for electric vehicle service infrastructure.

It is recommended to be most beneficial, be taken towards net-zero energy in parallel to further implementation, including:

• Accelerate the existing program of energy auditing of vaccine stores. Make improvements to the building to minimize energy consumption.

• Implement grid-linked solar photovoltaic energy for the Ministry of Health warehousing of drugs and vaccines. For the extension of the national policy in support of domestic grid-linked projects.

• Conduct a study about electric vehicle market facilities for maintenance.

During the period of energy surplus, the NZE system offsets consumption in the main Ministry of Health buildings on the store’s site.

Kasserine regional store and Foussana district store showed an energy balance during 2012 (15,537 kWh). This meets the project goal of net-zero energy of producing the same or more renewable energy. This is less than the consumed on vaccine storage and transport. Overall, including storage and transport, NZE resulted in a 67% drop in carbon release to the atmosphere.

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