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New Solar Panel Project in Ghana, West Africa

posted in: Environment, Ghana
Solar panel installation at Our Lady of Holy Cross School in Kasoa, Ghana
Solar panel installation at Our Lady of Holy Cross School in Kasoa, Ghana

Without warning, the lights go out at Our Lady of Holy Cross School in Kasoa, Ghana. The fans stop spinning. Computers become mere hunks of metal and plastic. At least once a week, learning is disrupted for more than 1,000 students during the school day. Likewise, students living in the new dormitories often find themselves in the dark while studying during after-school hours.

In this West African country the power grid is unreliable and power outages are a regular fact of life. But thanks to a collaboration between the Congregation’s Carbon Footprint Reduction Fund (CFRF) and the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters, the school is converting to solar power for energy generation, which means the growing campus will no longer have to dread such regular disruptions. Equally important to the school reducing its energy use is its transition to clean energy directly from the sun.

The solar panel project furthers the Congregation’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2050 and upholds the statement issued in 2009 (and reaffirmed in 2019) by the Family of Holy Cross (sisters, brothers and priests). The statement reads, in part: “Earth and the life it sustains are precious gifts of God, now radically threatened by climate change and ecological exploitation. Safeguarding these sacred gifts for future generations is a moral responsibility integral to the mission of the Family of Holy Cross.”

“The sisters in Ghana celebrate this important achievement for our students and our Earth,” said Sister Cynthia Godia Bienaan, CSC.

Twenty-four 250W solar panels are installed in classroom buildings and administrative offices. The system is designed to interface with the power grid so that if solar fails at any point, energy can still be derived from the grid.

The solar panel project also contributes in a small way to mitigating climate change and its repercussions in Ghana. In recent years, the country has seen progress in reducing poverty, but climate change could reverse this positive gain as it threatens agriculture, which is critical to the country’s economy.

“We give thanks to all those who have joined with us in this work of caring for creation and improving the learning environment for Our Lady of Holy Cross School, especially through support of our Carbon Footprint Reduction Fund,” said Dana Taylor, assistant Justice coordinator for the Sisters of the Holy Cross. “In the midst of the Church’s yearlong celebration of Laudato Si’ (May 24, 2020–May 24, 2021), we recognize more than ever that to participate in the care for God’s creation is to create a world in which all people have the necessary tools to flourish … a world in which everything and everyone is connected.”

The Carbon Footprint Reduction Fund (CFRF), recently identified as a “good practice” by the Interdicasterial Working Group of the Holy See on Integral Ecology, supports projects of Holy Cross sisters and their ministries globally that aim to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to ecological sustainability. It provides important support for projects to help them secure outside funding partnerships by providing an initial investment. For those looking to immediately make a direct impact on the care of creation, the CFRF represents an investment worth considering.