Hospitals both in urban and rural areas consume a lot of energy throughout the day as the electrical equipment used directly or indirectly to treat patients require uninterrupted power.

Many hospitals have considerable unused rooftop space. Combined with power shortages and rising cost of diesel, rooftop solar power makes a compelling case for implementation in hospitals; there are several advantages but also several constraints that need to be considered when deciding on and designing a rooftop solar power system for a hospital, such as using a variable source of power like solar to power equipment used in life saving situations.

Why hospitals should go for rooftop solar?

  • Noise minimization – In general, Photovoltaic (PV) panels operate without any noise, a property of key value in hospitals because they do not incorporate any moving mechanical parts
  • Cost-effective – Rooftop solar power has a levelised cost of Rs. 4.5-5/kWh (or less), considerably lower than diesel power at Rs. 18/kWh (or more). Additionally, your energy cost is now fixed for the next 25 years, unlike diesel power which keeps increasing
  • Backup power – Rooftop solar can be a good option for backup power in case of any power interruption
  • Minimal maintenance – A solar plant requires very little maintenance from the energy consumer
  • Flexible configurationsSolar panels can be installed on different kinds of roofs, including covered parking areas, as long as the structure can bear the weight of the panels. They are also highly scalable, with rooftop plants ranging in capacity from less than 1 kW to more than 1 MW

Constraints

  • Infirm power – Solar power is dependent on the sun shining, and output varies depending on meteorological conditions e.g., passing clouds can temporarily reduce the solar plant’s output. Therefore solar power for critical equipment should be used in conjunction with another source of power. This is a critical part of the design for hospitals, where solar may be used to power life-saving equipment
  • Load-shedding timings – If your hospital experiences load shedding primarily at night, solar power may not help in reducing your diesel consumption as it is available only during the day

Conclusion

When powering life-saving equipment, solar should always be used in conjunction with another source of power such as EB, diesel, or battery, as the output varies based on cloud cover and other meteorological conditions. As batteries are quite expensive, we recommend limiting the backup duration to an hour, subject to specific needs at your site. As your rooftop space may not permit a solar plant large enough to power your entire load, your solar plant may need to integrate with your diesel generator. Proper integration requires careful design and sizing of your solar plant with respect to your diesel generator.

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