If you were to list the places that really need energy, hospitals would be pretty near the top of the list. They need to keep patients warm, run oxygen machines and dialysis, switch the lights on for night time operations, keep medicines refrigerated, use scanners, heat monitors, computers... the list goes on and one. As you can imagine, the carbon emissions really start mounting up.
Fortunately, there are hospitals keen on keeping the planet healthy as well as their patients. And in some hospitals, where electricity is in short supply, using clean, renewable power isn't an add on - it's vital for patient care. Here are five of our favourite hospitals making innovative use of clean energy.
1. Sustainable Solar in Nepal
In rural Nepal, electricity can be hard to come by. Many hospitals are totally off grid, and long power cuts plague those that are connected. Without power it's really hard to care for patients - and that's how the idea for SunFarmer came about.
Their mission is to make solar panels affordable for hospitals through a rent-to-buy scheme. Responsible for both installing and maintaining the panels, they also organise local financing for clinics that can't afford the initial costs. In 2016 they'd helped produce enough electricity for 9,400 caesarean sections!
2. Clean Heat in Manchester
University Hospital of South Manchester proudly call themselves the greenest hospital in Britain. Through installing low energy bulbs, ultra efficient boilers, and motion censored lights, they've cut their carbon emissions by a whopping 28% in just five years!
Not content with that, they're also working with the local police on their cycle scheme. Volunteers fix second hand and abandoned bikes found by the police, which the staff then use to commute. Pretty cool huh?
3. Battling Blackouts in Libya
Security problems and the civil war mean power cuts in Libya can last for 17 hours, so the UN Development Programme has turned to solar power to keep hospitals going. In January 2017, they installed panels at ten hospitals - that’s two and a half every week! They’ve also installed batteries that store extra power that’s generated in the daytime to be used over night.
4. Harnessing the Wind in Norfolk
Keen to save cash and carbon, Queen Elizabeth’s hospital in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, went big. In Spring 2016 they built a wind turbine in the staff car park.
The turbine is owned by Ecotricity, but the hospital use most of the power (enough for 350 homes). A 20% discount on their electricity bills means there's more money to spend on important stuff, like making people better, and it'll save 600 tonnes of CO2 every year - that’s the same as 60 MRI scanners (and those things are giant!).
5. Saving Lives with Solar and Air in Uganda
In Ugandan hospitals, pure oxygen can be hard to come by. Add power supply difficulties into the mix and you get a serious problem for patients with lung problems like pneumonia. So scientists have created a bit of kit that helps keep them alive. The best part? It uses resources we’ve got plenty of: sun and air.
Essentially a solar oxygen machine, solar panels generate electricity which is stored in batteries. Tests show it works just as well as a conventional oxygen machine and scientists plan to install it in 80 hospitals across Uganda.
This blog was written by our good pals over at 10:10. Check their awesome work out here.