Armidale Hospital taps solar to slash grid power use by 40%

The transition of the Australian health sector to solar continues this week, with the installation of a 600kW rooftop array at the Armidale Hospital in regional New South Wales that will cut its annual grid electricity consumption by 40 per cent.

The impressive rooftop solar array was announced on Monday by Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall and NSW energy minister Matt Kean, who are backing the project with a $950,000 grant.

Marshall said the solar system would cut the newly built hospital’s energy costs by $150,000 a year.

“Rooftop solar was a conspicuous and disappointing omission from the recent $60 million re-development of the hospital, so I am delighted that will now be corrected,” Marshall said.

“It’s obvious that hospitals consume a great deal of electricity, so this type of investment makes huge sense, slashing energy consumption and lowering day-to-day running costs.

“By installing this major solar system and making the hospital more energy efficient, we’re helping to bring its electricity costs down, freeing up funds that can be invested back into delivering vital health services for our region.”

The hospital PV array, on which work is expected to begin soon, is part of state government plans to install 126,000 megawatts of solar capacity across rooftops by 2024.

So far, more than 14,000kW of solar has been installed on government buildings including hospitals, schools, museums and offices since 2015.

“Our region is the home of large scale renewable energy projects and so it makes sense local households and businesses also want some of that action in a bid to save money and protect the environment,” Marshall added.

“Solar is currently one of the cheapest ways to generate electricity. Our schools, hospitals and other buildings see lots of sunshine and it makes absolute sense to capture it to offset their operating costs and free up funds which can be spent on further improving these services.”

Australia’s health sector has been increasingly turning to solar as a cheaper and cleaner power solution, including in Victoria where a government-funded scheme last year saw 1.5MW of PV installed across eight health care facilities, including a 500kW array at the Wonthaggi Hospital on the state’s Bass Coast.

Other installations of note include the 609kW rooftop solar system at the Port Macquarie Base Hospital and Mid North Coast Cancer Institute, by Solgen; a 545kW system at the Friendly Society Private Hospital in Bundaberg, Queensland; and the 500kW system installed at Canberra Hospital in 2016.

Other major health care sector solar projects have included the 2.708MW of PV installed across 16 of St Vincent’s Health Australia’s 27 facilities, in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

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