Hospitals are excellent candidates for CHP systems because they have high electrical and thermal energy needs that generally follow each other and have significant energy demands 24/7/365. Many hospitals across the country are discovering the power of CHP for improving their bottom line and operational capabilities. More than 200 hospitals and healthcare facilities nationwide are using CHP to lower energy costs by up to 50% and decrease power outages and interruptions by up to 95%.
Potential benefits of hospital CHP include:
State and local laws typically require hospitals to have emergency back-up generators to pick up critical and emergency building loads in the event of a loss of power from the grid. However, these emergency systems often fail perform during power outages, leaving hospitals without electricity when it is needed most.
The Great Blackout of 2003 exposed this problem, with near tragic consequences. Air conditioners were shut down in many institutions, elective procedures canceled, and patients moved from hospitals with failed generators to those with working systems. (Clifford J. Levy with Kate Zernike, "Lessons Learned on 9/11 Help Hospitals Respond", New York Times 8/16/03 ).
Additionally, back-up generators represent "dead assets" to hospital management. They are run infrequently and do not contribute to the hospitals' profitability.
More and more hospitals are recognizing the many advantages of CHP over backup generation.
South Oaks Hospital: 1.3 MW CHP Application.
South Oaks Hospital on Long Island installed a combined heat and power system in 1990 to reduce energy costs. The system had a simple payback of less than five years, and continues to generate almost all of their energy needs. The current operating cost is just 6 to 8 cents per kWh, compared to the cost of approximately 12 cents per kWh for electricity purchased from the utility.Reliability has been another advantage of CHP. This system is grid-connected but can operate off the grid during emergencies. During the major northeast blackout in August 2003, South Oaks never lost power, while the area around the hospital lost power for 14 hours. Employees were not even aware of the blackout at first because they saw no interruption in their service. The hospital chose to stay off the grid for five days following the blackout because of concerns about instability in the grid...