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Renewable energy for health care in Sri Lanka, during COVID-19 and beyond





Nurses in Sri Lanka attend to their work. Photo: Dominic Sansoni/World Bank

The COVID-19 pandemic is prompting a fresh look at options to ensure reliable power for health facilities , including the Vavuniya General Hospital in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province. In line with an overall push to boost the share of renewables, the government of Sri Lanka is pursuing new power solutions for Vavuniya and about 20 other hospitals across the nation.

The World Bank is assisting as part of a multi-sectoral pandemic response in Sri Lanka. Similar initiatives are underway in other countries around the world, including Afghanistan, Madagascar, and Nigeria, to name a few.

Parts of a solution

Distributed photovoltaics (DPV), installed on rooftops or open spaces near buildings, are proliferating as a low-cost option for emergency power supplies.  Many developing countries already use DPV as a long-term primary or secondary power source for health care facilities in rural and urban settings. While operating costs are minimal, average investment costs are dramatically lower today than even a few years ago, making DPV more economically attractive. When coupled with batteries, which are also becoming cheaper, DPV systems can contribute to reliable power around the clock.

With these solutions, diesel generators can become more of a last resort, instead of being the main or only source of essential back-up power when the grid is unavailable. Less use of diesel generators helps avoid the high cost of fuel, vulnerability to shortages, and toxic emissions.

Diverse technology options are available for distributed renewables. They range from individual components to pre-packaged “box” solutions which combine DPV, batteries and generators of varying sizes, including up to mini-grid level for larger sites. Under the auspices of the Energy Storage Partnership facilitated by the World Bank, a survey of suppliers has found that significant inventory is available despite logistics disruptions.

Electrical devices are also increasingly available in more energy efficient models, which can help avoid oversized power systems in new health care units. Correct system sizing is crucial where financial resources are limited, but many variables need to be considered.

For example, the electricity needs of intensive care units (ICU) differ greatly depending on how many beds are occupied: temporary ICU wards need significant power, but only for a limited time period. Another key factor to consider is that electricity demand from certain medical services may drop while stay-at-home measures are in force. For instance, some hospitals are deferring elective surgeries during the crisis. System sizing strategies need to examine such factors when addressing the health care sector’s power needs in response to the pandemic.

Bringing the parts together

Given all the options, what tools are available to design power solutions for hospitals without full grid electricity?  One resource is the HOMER Powering Health Tool, a free online model to help simplify the design process for distributed generation systems for health care facilities.  Standing for Hybrid Optimization Model for Multiple Energy Resources, HOMER is a leading resource for mini-grid analyses.

Originally commissioned for USAID’s Powering Health program, the HOMER Powering Health Tool has recently been updated to reflect typical COVID-19 response needs with support from the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP). Users enter the electrical needs manually or select default values for pre-listed devices from one of four health facility tiers as a starting point. The tiers include, for example, a small rural dispensary that would typically screen and refer serious cases to larger facilities such as a district hospital. Based on user inputs, the tool calculates least-cost combinations of batteries, PV, and diesel generators sets – including as back-up to grid electricity if this is available for some hours each day.

The tool runs entirely online and can be used an unlimited number of times with no need to sign in or to download a software. It’s kept simple for non-specialists to use without requiring special training. This comes with limitations, of course. For certain advanced needs, other products are available, such as the full, licensed software of HOMER Energy by UL or the free System Advisor Model (SAM) of the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The latter is especially useful for systems that may feed DPV power to the grid when it is not needed on site. In Sri Lanka, the World Bank is applying these tools to optimize solutions to strengthen power for Vavuniya and other hospitals.

From one to many

With a standard lifetime of 20 years, DPV systems can supply clean energy to the national grid. They can also become the backbone of community mini-grids. The value of both options goes well beyond the pandemic. DPV can help not only the consumers who host the systems but also a power system that it feeds. DPV can reduce grid congestion and energy losses for utilities. It can also displace more costly generation from wholesale sources while promoting resilience.

Sri Lanka has already been promoting DPV such as through its Rooftop Solar Power Generation Project, in partnership with the Asian Development Bank. Nationwide, rooftop installations are on track to reach a total of 200 megawatts capacity by the end of 2020, equivalent to around 7 percent of system peak demand. Northern Province alone has added over 3 megawatts since 2017, including 17 projects in Vavuniya for businesses and households. Consumers with DPV can choose to feed some or all the power generated into the national grid through the utility providers. In all cases, the DPV significantly reduces consumers’ bills while providing clean energy to the system at a lower cost than fuel-based generation for grid.

Sri Lanka’s initiative shows that solutions to the current crisis can also address longer-term challenges. With a strategic approach, health care facilities can be well-positioned to combat COVID-19 while preparing for the “new normal.” 

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I Say We’re Setting Up For A Major Bottom

It’s almost impossible to call market tops and market bottoms using basic technical analysis tools like price and volume. Don’t get me wrong, that combination…



It's almost impossible to call market tops and market bottoms using basic technical analysis tools like price and volume. Don't get me wrong, that combination is my favorite during trend-following periods. But trying to spot bearish reversals is difficult when price action keeps riding higher and higher. The same is true in trying to spot bullish reversals when prices keep moving lower and lower. Maybe that seems unconventional to hard-core technicians, but I believe it's the reality. Too many folks say "when this line crosses that line, then this will happen". To me, that's following technical analysis and wearing blinders. Just my two cents.

I use technical price action to confirm what other signals are suggesting. We get plenty of signals on a regular basis - some short-term in nature, others long-term - if we're only willing to listen. While I've been bullish since June 2022, I do recognize short-term warning signals that tell us that risks of remaining long have increased substantially. In mid-July, I turned very cautious short-term and discussed those signals in a "Your Daily 5" episode that aired on July 19th. Let me pull up an S&P 500 chart, so you can see where U.S. equities stood when I fired this warning shot:

There were several reasons for the stock market bulls to hit quicksand. Tesla (TSLA), a Wall Street darling and a favorite stock of mine, suggested a possible 20% drop. That call aired the day of TSLA's top and TSLA fell closer to 30% in less than one month. These signals work and help us to manage risk! As I always say, they do NOT guarantee future price action, but they make us aware of increasing risk and that's how you invest more successfully. Since that July top, I've encouraged our EB members to tread very cautiously, whatever that means to each individual member. To some, it's being in cash. To others, it might simply mean to avoid leverage on the long side. But this cautious period is coming to an end.

If you want to see what was discussed on July 19th and why I felt the stock market was in short-term trouble, check out the Your Daily 5 recording on YouTube!

I absolutely LOVE when my signals take the opposite view of the masses. And now that everyone believes we're resuming the prior bear market, my signals are saying HOGWASH. Could we continue to proceed lower? Sure. There are never any guarantees with the stock market. But I see signs that suggest shorting is a VERY HIGH RISK strategy, with those risks growing every day. I'm discussing one major reason why in our FREE EB Digest newsletter that will be published early Monday morning, before the stock market opens. If you're not already an EB Digest subscriber, it's 100% free with no credit card required. Simply CLICK HERE and enter your name and email address. I'll discuss Reason #1 to turn bullish tomorrow morning. And I'll also focus on other reasons to be thinking bullish thoughts when I publish the EB Digest on Wednesday and Friday. Don't wait until it's too late. Check them out NOW!

Happy trading!


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Highlights from My Week’s Reading

Natalię Dowzicky, “How Florida Beat California to High-Speed Rail,” Reason, September 20, 2023.
Not only is Brightline the first privately…



Natalię Dowzicky, “How Florida Beat California to High-Speed Rail,” Reason, September 20, 2023.


Not only is Brightline the first privately funded intercity rail line in the U.S., but it’s also the fastest train in the country outside of the northeast corridor. Topping out at 125 mph in Florida, it will travel from Miami to Orlando in about three hours. For comparison, the Amtrak in the area takes about six and a half hours to complete that same trip.

Mike Reininger, CEO of Brightline, told Reason that passenger rail makes commercial sense under specific conditions, such as the case in Florida, where it connects two populous, tourist-friendly cities that are about 250 miles apart. At that distance, Reininger says, “It is too far to drive and too short to fly. You can approximate the time of flying significantly, improve the time of driving, and you can offer it at a price point that makes it an economic proposition.”

Not surprisingly, though, Brightline has become a subsidy sucker.

Romina Boccia, “Social Security Benefits are Growing Too Fast,” Cato at Liberty, September 21, 2023.


When a Social Security‐​eligible worker’s benefits are first calculated, this worker’s past wages are indexed to bring them to the same level as today’s earnings. This is called wage indexing and is based on the growth in average wages in the economy. When the Social Security Administration (SSA) first indexes a worker’s lifetime covered earnings, it does so using the SSA’s Average Wage Index (AWI). The AWI includes all wages that are subject to federal income tax, including wages in excess of the taxable Social Security maximum payroll tax threshold.

Wage indexing gives retirees a benefit amount that reflects the increase in the standard of living over their working careers—even if they didn’t earn commensurate wages. It’s like giving workers retroactive credit for improvements in the economy, including for wage improvements among the highest income earners.

Definitely worth reading carefully.

Christopher Wilcox, “Truck This: Why I’m Leaving the Long-Haul Industry,” American Institute for Economic Research, September 21, 2023.


More recently, environmental regulations requiring manufacturers to reduce emissions gave us the diesel particulate filter (DPF), an exhaust treatment system that replaces a standard muffler. While there is no current federal mandate requiring a DPF, the filters are required by the 2008 California Statewide Truck and Bus Rule, which has incentivized many nationwide fleets to adopt them. The problem with DPFs is the filter system clogs. A lot.

When DPFs go down, trucks roll to a stop. Truckers report having to have a DPF serviced as often as every 5,000 miles, which means lots of lost productivity and stranded cargo. I’ve had four breakdowns over the past two years, and three were due to my DPF. A tow truck driver I spoke to on one of those occasions told me half of his business comes from malfunctioning DPFs. Repairs are a specialized affair, and replacements can cost up to $2,000. When my truck isn’t moving, I’m not earning. And these regulators have required that my truck stand still far too often.

Of course California is in the forefront of regulation.

Fiona Harrigan, “Biden Administration Announces New Measures to Get Migrants to Work,” Reason, September 21 2023.


Yesterday, the Biden administration announced new actions to help get recent immigrants to work, including offering almost half a million Venezuelans a status that will let them live and work in the U.S. legally for the next 18 months. The new measures come at a critical time, as labor shortages persist and cities struggle to provide for newcomers.

Certain Venezuelan migrants are eligible for temporary protected status (TPS), a designation offered to migrants who can’t safely return to their home countries due to armed conflict, environmental disaster, or another temporary safety hazard. Venezuela was first designated for TPS in 2021 due to a severe political and economic crisis perpetuated by Nicolás Maduro’s regime. Under that designation, Venezuelans who came to the U.S. before March 2021 qualified for protection; now, the status will apply to Venezuelans who arrived before the end of July this year. There are currently 16 countries designated for TPS.

If I understand the program correctly, it sounds good: let them work instead of forcing taxpayers to subsidize their living expenses. It’s win-win-win for immigrants, employers and consumers, and taxpayers.

James Herndon, “Keep the Washington Consensus,” Law & Liberty, September 21, 2023.


Despite those deliberate omissions, synergies still allowed the Consensus to exceed the sum of its parts. Opening up foreign direct investment eased privatization. Privatization enabled balanced budgets. Balanced budgets limited inflation, which encouraged foreign direct investment. The common denominators were respect and restraint: leaders had to trust that firms and citizens knew better than the bureaucrats how best to allocate their own labor and resources. That’s why the Consensus’ first beneficiary was always likely to be the poor. After all, funding for primary education and basic healthcare does far more to reduce poverty than subsidies for diesel fuel and national airlines.

In short, Williamson promoted policies that enabled sustainable growth in developing countries with respect for their autonomy and an emphasis on raising prospects for the least fortunate. The Left never forgave him.

It’s the nicest treatment of the Washington Consensus that I’ve read. Lots of good nuggets.



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Miss Universe denies link with recently unveiled coin project

The Miss Universe Organization said that there is no Miss Universe cryptocurrency or blockchain offering involved with the Miss Universe or Miss Universe…



The Miss Universe Organization said that there is no Miss Universe cryptocurrency or blockchain offering involved with the Miss Universe or Miss Universe Philippines.

The Miss Universe Organization has denied any association with the Miss Universe Coin project announced at the Philippine Blockchain Week (PBW) event held earlier this month. PBW said that they are in contact with all involved parties and will post an update soon.

Earlier this month, a project called Miss Universe Coin was announced at PBW. Donald Lim, the founder of the organization managing the PBW, said during the event that the PBW will “launch the Miss Universe Coin.” However, weeks after the announcement, the official organization behind Miss Universe has denied any association with the coin project and called it a fraud. 

Official announcement published on the Miss Universe Facebook page. Source: Facebook

On Sept. 22, the Miss Universe official Facebook page announced that the Miss Universe Organization and JKN Global Group, the company behind the pageant, are not associated with the coin project that was unveiled at the PBW event. According to the organization, it will be pursuing “all legal options with regards to this infringement.” 

“There is currently no Miss Universe cryptocurrency or blockchain offering, and these products are in no way involved with the voting or selection process for Miss Universe or the Miss Universe Philippines pageants,” they wrote.

Related: JPEX hikes withdrawal fee to almost $1K after Hong Kong watchdog warning

In a statement sent to Cointelegraph, a representative from the Miss Universe Organization claimed that the Miss Universe Coin is a "fraud," and they expect it to be further announced in other events across the globe. “We suspect that people may be planning to mention this at upcoming blockchain conferences in Dubai and Singapore. If you see it there, please do not cover, it's a fraud,” they said.

In a statement on X (formerly Twitter), PBW said that they are currently in contact with all of the parties involved and will announce an update as soon as possible. Cointelegraph reached out to the Philippine Blockchain Week but did not get an immediate response.

Magazine: Chinese billionaire’s $1B fraud charges, Kwon’s $11M bet, Zhu Su and Islam: Asia Express

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