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Reducing Energy Consumption

There are hospitals in India that have managed to reduce electricity consumption considerably by greening healthcare operations. Kovai Medical Center and Hospital (KMCH) has significantly reduced its electricity bill through various initiatives — monitoring energy utilization, technology upgradation and use of renewable energy sources. The hospital’s Senior Vice President P Neelakannan explains…

As a sector, hospitals and health facilities account for a disproportionate amount of energy use and emissions. Hospitals use about 2.5 times the amount of energy used by similar sized commercial buildings like hotels, malls, apartment buildings etc because they are open 24 hours a day and have extra commitments on medical equipment, air filtration and circulation, air cooling and waste management. The new buildings can be designed to substantially reduce overall energy consumption. By taking a hard look at the operating costs of healthcare utilities and facilities, engineers can find substantial saving opportunities especially in energy costs which is typically up to 3% of the hospital operating expenditure.

KMCH under the Chairmanship of Dr. Nalla G Palaniswami has more than 50 medical disciplines and over 1200 patients are treated every day in 2009. The hospital facilities engineering department embarked on an extensive energy audit programme in its 750 bed Hospital facility with its 9,00,000 sq.ft built up area and it proved to be a real eye-opener. It revealed that adoption of good energy conservation programme can lead to saving up to 20% on average annual energy costs with very little initial investments.

Energy conservation and efficiency improvement initiatives at KMCH

Building management system

The typical building management system integrates Chiller plants, Air handling units, Lighting controls and Energy management system at Kovai Medical Center & Hospital. Two of its 500 tons Trane Centrifugal chiller plants, their pumps, motors and 35 air handling units have been integrated through Siemens software, Desigo Insight – Version 3.

This has enabled the hospital to switch on/off all the above equipment from a remote central control room all 24 hrs. This has greatly reduced the requirement of man power and also helped in monitoring the running time of these equipment. The temperature and humidity monitoring facility available in this system for critical areas like 25 operation theatres and 20 medical equipment areas has helped to cut down the energy cost related to air conditioning of these areas. (Fig. 2)

Energy management system

Today very sophisticated IT enabled Energy management system software is available which is capable of monitoring, calculating and controlling the use of energy consumption. Digital energy measuring instruments help measure the energy load (Table 2). Once the accurate measurement is available, it is possible to detect wastage or excesses in specific areas.

Telecommunications across the enterprise allows for a 30% reduction in energy costs according to Schneider Electric Company which specializes in building management and energy management systems in large buildings. At KMCH, all high energy consumption areas like air conditioning plant, central sterilization equipment, public and room lighting, effluent treatment plant, heater coils of the solar heaters and the like, have been fitted with digital energy meters to monitor the consumption of power.

These meters have been networked to energy management system. Parameters like kilowatt-hour, power factor, voltage and current are monitored at the facilities engineering department on a 24-hour basis. Computerised energy consumption data that is available through the software for all the areas is archived and studied to find out if there is any scope for further reduction in the energy consumption by adopting certain technologies or by restricting the duration of operation etc. Table 1 indicates the energy consumption details for a particular day at Kovai Medical Center and Hospital.

Lighting energy saver – 300 KVA

Lighting load in the hospital which accounts for about 25% of the total energy consumed is connected to lighting Coolite energy saver equipment supplied by Schneider Electric Company (Conzerv). This equipment is designed for two levels of savings 10% and 12%. The entire lighting load is connected through this equipment in 10% saving mode which has resulted in a saving of 50,000 per month. (Fig. 7)

APFC Panels for optimum power factor

Maintaining a consistent Power Factor (PF), close to unity, leads to considerable saving in electricity consumption. As per Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) rules, maintaining PF below 0.90 is liable for a penalty. Rebate which was available till 0.99 for PF beyond 0.95 has been withdrawn by TNEB. However KMCH has installed Automatic Power Factor Controller (APFC) equipment and ensures a optimum Power Factor of 0.98 all the 24 hours. This has helped in preventing penalty charges and maintaining optimum PF and saving `30,000 per month in terms of electricity charges.

Adopting new technology and technology upgradation

As part of the new technology adoption programme, the old reciprocating and screw type compressors have been replaced by Trane centrifugal chillers (Fig.1) in the air-conditioning plant. Centrifugal compressors are 30% more efficient than screw type chiller at high loads more than 80%. The entire HAVC system in the hospital is also monitored and controlled by means of a very sophisticated BMS system supplied by Siemens, Germany.

Old stainless steel sterilizers have been replaced by most modern sterilizers from Getinge, Sweden with a data loger facility. This has helped the hospital to monitor and control the sterilization process much better and also save energy cost to the tune of 18,000 per month. (Fig. 3 & 4)

VFD for motors & V3F drives for lifts

All air handling units and chiller plant motor starters are replaced by Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) to reduce the starting current and to achieve variable speed. Lift motor drives are replaced by V3F controllers, which save 30% electrical energy during operation.

Star rated equipments

As a matter of policy, the hospital purchases only 5 star energy rated electrical / air conditioning and refrigerator equipment, certified by Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) under the Ministry of Power, Government of India for energy efficiency. The hospital has over 100 such equipment all over its premises which include refrigerators, air conditioners, electrical heaters etc.

CFL, T5 tubes & LED lamps

In the patient room toilets, the existing Incandescent lamps are replaced by CFL & T5 tubes. 40 watt copper choke tube lights are replaced with 28 watt electronic chokes. Halogen bulbs in the OT’s have been replaced by LED lights. Usage of LED lights will be extended to all other departments gradually to take advantage of falling LED lamp prices and also to spread out the capital cost on these lights over one or two years.

Pneumatic transport system (PTS)

PTS is used for transporting laboratory samples, medicines around the hospital through pipe lines. This reduces the involvement of huge man power and use of lifts, which results in saving power. This has resulted in reduction of around 50 ward boys and girls used to transport lab samples and medicines. It has also eliminated 250 visits to pharmacy and 150 visits to laboratory by the ward boys and girls each day.

Use of renewable energy sources (Solar Heaters/ Panels)

In the hospital, nine numbers of Solar hot water plants, each with 2000 liters of capacity, have been installed to supply hot water to all the rooms in the hospital. It saves 15% of total diesel consumption per day and 1,20,000 in terms of money per month. KMCH is the first hospital in India, to install 640 watt Solar panels, in collaboration with Dr. N.G.P Institute of Technology, Department of Electrical & Electronics Engineering and Numeric Power Systems, Chennai for 20 corridor lights as a pilot project. It will be extended for 250 Kw main lighting system in another two years time. (Fig. 5 & 6)

Effluent treatment plant

The hospital uses five lakh liters of water per day. Out of this requirement 3 lakh liters of water is purchased from outside sources. Although the entire 5 lakh liters of water is treated using an Effluent treatment plant, 2 lakh liter of water is treated with ultra water purifier system for recycling. Treated water is used for gardening, construction and toilet cleaning purposes. This has resulted in a saving of 35,000 per month (Fig. 8).

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