Okhla missionary hospital to generate solar power

NEW DELHI: The energy needs of the occupants of 100 beds--including air conditioners--will be met by the sun at Holy Family Hospital, a missionary nursing home in Okhla. The hospital is likely to be the first private or non-government building in Delhi to have a large solar rooftop system, generating 300kW. 

Interestingly, the hospital is not entitled to any government subsidy on solar power and is yet set to make big savings on its total energy cost. Instead of using China-made panels that have flooded the market, the hospital staff chose German panels which, they say, have a longer life and require little maintenance. 

The Holy Family Hospital has 350 beds, nine operation theatres and five intensive care units--it has 200 air conditioners apart from over a thousand electrical lights and other appliances. Its total energy needs are close to 900kW. To avoid the steep initial cost of installing such a huge rooftop solar panel system, the hospital signed a 20 year agreement with the German company. 

Under the power purchase agreement, the company installs, operates and maintains solar panels on their rooftop and the hospital pays for the power generated and provides space for the panels. The power purchase agreement model is usually feasible only for large establishments. 

"My estimation is that we will save Rs 3-5 lakh on our monthly energy bills. We will pay about Rs 7 per unit for solar energy as against Rs 9 per unit for conventional power that we have been paying," Fr P A George, director of Holy Family Hospital, said. The hospital had roof space available only for a 300kW system. Electricity generated by the panels is directly fed into the main electrical panel in synchronization with the grid power. 

As part of a government pilot project about 15 years ago, a small rooftop solar power system was installed at the same hospital. "But it lasted only five years because of the poor quality of the panels. This time we were cautious. Being a missionary hospital, we cannot afford to lose money with a less efficient system," Fr George explained. 

"Our report on Delhi's solar potential found that private facilities have a potential to generate 104MW of electricity and Delhi's overall potential to be a 2GW solar city can be achieved only by 2020. Holy Family Hospital is a trailblazer in tapping into this potential," a statement issued by Greenpeace India reacting to the hospital's initiative said. 

Residents around Sukhdev Vihar are also excited."The panels will keep the hospital's roof cool and bring down AC usage," said Ranjit Devraj, a resident.Meanwhile, Delhi Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation has recently inaugurated a 130KWp solar rooftop plant at Kashmere Gate ISBT.

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