Hospitals and other medical care facilities require many resources. These include heat, power, lighting as well as medical products. When it comes to people’s health, efficiency is key; any waste means that the resources cannot be used to help someone in need. This makes energy conservation and effectiveness very important.
On average hospitals require approximately 160 liters/day for every occupant. This water is used for washing of the patient, laundry and cleaning of the building. Without enough hot water, a hospital could become dangerous quite quickly; it is hard to clean without proper water. There is a constant battle to sanitize and clean many surfaces within the facility. At peak demand rates, each occupant requires on average 30 liters/hr. For a large hospital, this amount of water is very substantial. In addition to hot water consumption, at certain times of the year the hospital must either be heated or cooled to maintain proper comfort levels for occupants.
This energy can be very effectively harvested from the sun. The sun provides more energy in an hour than the entire world can use in a year. As such, one must choose a method of collection. The most efficient solar hot water and solar heating system on the market today is the SolarBeam concentrator from Solartron Energy Systems. It is a parabolic tracking concentrator; its special shape reflects all the sunlight onto a focal absorber, where the sun’s heat is harvested. While many hospitals are located in dense urban areas, this is not a problem for the SolarBeam concentrator, it can be mounted on either the roof or the ground. It has automatic safeguards in place against over-temperature, high winds or pressure loss. The system requires minimal maintenance and has an expected lifetime of 25 years.
The solar heat from the dish can be used in a variety of ways within the facility. It can provide hot water for hospitals up to 97oC, which can then be used for cooking, cleaning or laundry (once brought to a suitable temperature). As well, when combined with an absorption chiller, the solar hot water can be used to cool a facility.
No matter how a hospital is powered, there must always be a backup system in place. A hospital on the electrical grid must use an alternative generator in case of emergency. Generally these are industrial quality Diesel generators. These systems can be used for both heat and electricity in the case of emergency or for supplemental power in situations of inclement weather. Together these two systems can provide energy for the hospital on a consistent basis. In the medical service industry, contingency plans are required.
Combined with a suitable backup plan, the SolarBeam concentrator can provide solar hot water for hospitals. The clean energy it produces is extremely effective for any hospital wishing to reduce its environmental footprint and provide for its patients.