Another Victorian Hospital On Its Way To Solar Energy Savings 

Solar power in Victorian hospitals

Looking to cut its energy costs, Heathcote Health has lodged a planning application with the City of Greater Bendigo for a solar installation.

Heathcote is located in Central Victoria, around 110 kilometres north of Melbourne and 40 kilometres south-east of Bendigo. Its hospital, Heathcote Health, was established in 1859.

According to the Bendigo Advertiser, Heathcote Health is looking to install 234 solar panels with a total capacity of 89 kilowatts, which will generate enough energy to slash its electricity bills by a quarter.

The system will be installed under the Victorian Government’s Regional Health Solar Program, a $13.5 million initiative providing zero-interest loans that kicked off in 2017 and will be wrapping up next year. 9.1 MW of PV capacity is expected to be installed through the program, which will collectively reduce electricity costs for participating hospitals by around $2.7 million annually and slash carbon emissions by 13,000 tonnes a year.

A total of 74 sites have or are having solar panels installed under the initiative.

  • Gippsland – 12 sites
  • Barwon South West – 21 sites
  • Loddon Mallee – 12 sites
  • Hume – 10 sites
  • Grampians – 15 sites
  • Ambulance Victoria – 5 stations

The Victorian Health and Human Services Building Authority (VHHSBA) web site indicate 37 of the 74 sites are still at the procurement stage, so it will be a busy year ahead.

Hospital Solar Systems Great And Small

The level of grid-supplied electricity offset by the systems in each instance will depend on the site – anywhere from around 5 per cent up to 30 per cent, with the average of around 20 per cent. The size of the systems also varies greatly – from 8kW for the ambulance station at Lara, to a monster 759kW installation for Central Gippsland Health Service in Sale, which was completed this year. The 2,250 solar panels used for the Sale installation will generate approximately 992,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

There have been a number of big PV systems installed on other hospitals across Australia. Another huge installation, also under the Victorian program, was a 700kW system in Bairnsdale . Outside Victoria, a 545kW project in Bundaberg, Queensland springs to mind. Payback on the Bundaberg system was expected to be rapid – just 4 years.

Energy cost savings aside, it’s quite fitting healthcare services are embracing solar power given the impact that climate change has, and will increasingly have, on human health.

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