Microgrids for Healthcare Facilities Can Save Lives

May 4, 2020
Microgrids for healthcare facilities are popping up quickly to help institutions provide life-saving services during the COVID-19 crisis.

Microgrids for healthcare facilities are popping up quickly to help institutions provide life-saving services during the COVID-19 crisis.

For example, Bloom Energy recently-and quickly — installed microgrids at two field hospitals in California. The microgrids that employ Bloom’s fuel cell technology were installed in less than a week at the sites of a national hospital system in Vallejo and at a Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.

Join Bloom Energy, Blue Sky Power and NEC June 1 for a live discussion on microgrids for healthcare facilities at the free Microgrid Knowledge Virtual Conference

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These field hospitals accommodate hospital overflow from COVID-19.

“We were able to rapidly deploy clean energy solutions that help us with flexible capability in these times,” said Asim Hussain, Bloom Energy vice president of commercial strategy and customer experience.

But that’s not the only way microgrids can help during the crisis. They can also avoid power outages — and would have been useful April 13 and 14, when 1.3 million people lost power as a result of tornadoes. Those outages left many hospitals and healthcare facilities without power in the midst of the crisis.

One hospital said that after a small blip in power, it has to reset the 242 televisions that operate independently. Hospitals also must reschedule surgeries and can’t operate MRI machines, computed tomography scans, X-Rays or provide other important services.

Diesel backup doesn’t do enough

Generally, hospital backup systems, often diesel, are only designed to keep lights on and elevators operating, as well as providing other legally required life safety, so they don’t do enough in a crisis. What’s more, the many diesel backup systems employed by hospitals emit air pollutants, which can affect people susceptible to or struggling with COVID-19.

And operating diesel systems is expensive, costing about 30 cents/kWh.

However, microgrids can provide clean, reliable power to hospitals, senior facilities and other healthcare institutions. And it’s possible for these institutions to overcome funding challenges by seeking capital from energy investment groups and other sources.

One example is an installation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Funded in part by the state to address service interruptions, the project added battery and combined heat and power (CHP). The CHP provides the majority of energy for the hospital, and the battery storage provides for improved operation during outages. The storage also helps the hospital avoid using energy during peak–and expensive–hours.

With the COVID-19 crisis upon us — and expected to be with us for many months to come — microgrids can be essential, potentially life-saving assets for healthcare facilities.

To learn more about microgrids for healthcare facilities, register for our free virtual conference June 1-3.

About the Author

Lisa Cohn | Contributing Editor

I focus on the West Coast and Midwest. Email me at [email protected]

I’ve been writing about energy for more than 20 years, and my stories have appeared in EnergyBiz, SNL Financial, Mother Earth News, Natural Home Magazine, Horizon Air Magazine, Oregon Business, Open Spaces, the Portland Tribune, The Oregonian, Renewable Energy World, Windpower Monthly and other publications. I’m also a former stringer for the Platts/McGraw-Hill energy publications. I began my career covering energy and environment for The Cape Cod Times, where Elisa Wood also was a reporter. I’ve received numerous writing awards from national, regional and local organizations, including Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Willamette Writers, Associated Oregon Industries, and the Voice of Youth Advocates. I first became interested in energy as a student at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, where I helped design and build a solar house.

Twitter: @LisaECohn

Linkedin: LisaEllenCohn

Facebook: Energy Efficiency Markets

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