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News archive - November 2014
More power to you!
Hospitals need to run 24/7 and as a result rely heavily on their power supplies to operate everything from lights and heating to IT equipment and life-saving medical devices. This article looks at how to protect supplies in the event of a power failure and reveals how hospitals can even make money along the way.
NHS hospitals up and down the country are implementing demand response (DR) systems, with the potential to earn more than £100,000 a year which can be ploughed back into frontline services.
The National Grid pays organisations to use less electricity at times when it is struggling to meet peak demand. And, with an ageing infrastructure, and due to the rapidly-changing climate, hospitals are well placed to take advantage of this income stream.
“There is no place that needs reliable power more than a hospital,” said Yaov Zingher, director and co-founder of KiWi Power.
“If someone is being operated on in theatre, for example, a power failure could be catastrophic.”
Because of this, hospitals have to run back-up generators, which are programmed to kick in and take over power supplies should the mains system fail.”
However, looking after this supportive equipment is vital, or trusts risk losing power altogether.
Smart metering equipment, often integrated into building management systems, is one way to tackle this problem.
And many suppliers, including KiWi Power, offer this technology for no upfront cost, making it attractive to NHS trusts looking to do more with less available capital.
One of these is Lister Hospital in Hertfordshire, which has recently upgraded its electrical systems, including the installation of a combined heat and power plant.
To help ensure the hospital has a reliable standby power solution in the event of a power failure, four 2MVA, LV diesel generators have been installed, providing full back-up for a new 5MVA, duplicate 11kV feed supplied by UK Power Networks. It also implemented a system for controlling and monitoring these generators remotely from its smart grid operations centre in London.
Remote monitoring of the hospital’s standby power equipment allows facility managers to be contacted immediately should any problems arise.
Colchester General Hospital has also taken advantage of this approach, introducing a DR programme that has significantly improved its resilience testing regime, enhanced energy bill savings, and generated a new revenue stream for the hospital.
Zingher said: “A DR programme mitigates the risks associated with poorly-managed back-up energy supplies. The advantages are improvements in generator reliability at times of mains failure, hour-long run times so no alteration to generator cooling is required, and the replacement of a normal testing schedule with a revenue-generating load test exercise. Costly bank testing is also reduced.
“Through DR aggregators, hospitals are now reducing their energy consumption from the grid at peak demand times while getting paid by National Grid. In this way, hospitals are earning significant recurring revenue streams, gaining visibility into their real-time energy use, improving resilience testing regimes as part of their emergency preparedness, and decreasing their carbon footprints.”
KiWi’s DR technology is particularly useful for testing uninterrupted power supply (UPS).
Zingher said: “UPS systems provide immediate power in the event of an outage. However, they run on batteries and these batteries can be very expensive. Additionally, much like a car, if you leave it without starting it up, when you eventually need it, it is likely not to work. UPS systems need to be checked regularly and that costs money. Our systems test back-up equipment at the same time as there are peaks in the grid.
“By implementing this technology, a normal-size hospital can earn anything between £20,000-£100,000, which can be put back into services.”
KiWi Power and a number of other suppliers are included on a Crown Commercial Services framework, which makes it easier for trusts to find the right solution and purchase it more quickly than using traditional procurement methods.
Zingher said: “This really reduces the amount of time it takes to get a study of an estate done and to get the technology installed and working. Plus, it is free for trusts. It really does have the potential to become a gameplayer in both saving energy and ensuring a constant supply of power at a time when hospitals are busier than ever.”