More solar panels could be on the way for SA hospitals

  • The Department of Health has joined forces with the CSIR to launch a feasibility study on the rollout of solar panels at hospitals across the country.
  • Earlier this year the Gauteng provincial government said it would build solar panelling at 11 public hospitals in the province.
  • Government is also in the middle of plans to exclude more hospitals from loadshedding through the updating of existing infrastructure.

It has become our unfortunate reality that loadshedding is here to stay. While some comments about the rolling blackouts point out that recent government plans will see it end in the next few years, some of the direst warnings spell out that it will be with us for the next decade.

Whatever the case is, entities across the country are looking at ways to adapt to the outages and mitigate some of loadshedding’s worst impacts.

As part of one of these efforts the Department of Health has begun working with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to conduct a “feasibility study” on the rollout of solar panels at health facilities, especially to power “critical areas.”

SA News cites a statement describing that this plan is part of the mix of energies to remove some of the strain on backup generators battered by loadshedding.

In May, Media24 reported that 11 public hospitals in Gauteng were allocated to receive solar panelling on their roofs as part of a R63 million investment from the Gauteng Infrastructure Financing Agency (GIFA).

The selected hospitals include the George Mukhari Hospital, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, as well as Laudium, Mamelodi, Tembisa, Yusuf Dadoo, Carletonville, Tshwane, Heidelberg, Edenvale and Steve Biko hospitals.

Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, who was the Gauteng Finance and eGovernment MEC at the time said that the solar panel project would be implemented within the year, but there have been no further communications from Gauteng government about how this project is fairing.

In June, private healthcare provider Mediclinic built solar energy solutions at six of its hospitals. This came after the amending of Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act, which meant that the limit on self-generation of renewable power was increased from 1MW to 10MW.

The Department of Health has also recently been undergoing plans to exclude more hospitals from loadshedding.

“The Department of Health is on the right track with efforts to ensure the priority hospitals are excluded from load shedding as part of plans to minimise the disruptions on the provision of essential health services during power outages,” said the department about the initiative.

This can be a lengthy and effort-intensive process. As the government looks to exclude certain hospitals, old infrastructure needs to be replaced and new infrastructure needs to be built in order to isolate these healthcare facilities from the grid.

Currently, 72 hospitals around the country have been excluded from loadshedding, with a total of 212 facilities earmarked for exclusion in the future.

South Africa is sitting on the precipice of its shift to green energy. Earlier this month, the country received pledges from the UK to aid its Just Energy Transition project with grant funding and technical assistance.

[Image – Sungrow EMEA on Unsplash]


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