Adopting combined heat and power technology for a hospital facility could slash energy bills, reduce emissions and make a facility more disaster resilient, according to a new report from Health Care Without Harm and the Boston Green Ribbon Commission.
According to a scenario modeled in Powering the Future of Health Care – Financial and Operational Resilience: A Combined Heat and Power Guide for Massachusetts Hospital Decision Makers, a 1 MW CHP system at a nonprofit hospital facility in Massachusetts could result in annual net positive cash flow of $700,000 or more for the hospital, taking into account generous utility and Massachusetts state incentives and bond financing structure.
During Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, many New York and New Jersey hospitals lost power and needed to send patients to other facilities. A number of hospitals that were able to take in these patients had critical capacity provided by CHP systems, including the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y., and the South Coast Hospital in Amityville, N.Y, the report says.
With fuel use efficiency of up to 85 percent — significantly higher than conventional generation — and payback periods as short as four years, CHP systems can help Massachusetts hospitals reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 18 percent, according to John Cleveland, executive director of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission.
The US Department of Energy has estimated that the 47.5 MW CHP system at Boston’s Longwood Medical and Academic Area has reduced total fuel consumption for participating facilities by 24 percent, leading to an estimated greenhouse gas reduction of 117,500 tons of CO2 annually. Without the greenhouse gas savings from the CHP facility, Boston’s community-wide greenhouse gas emissions would be roughly 2 percent higher annually — making it more difficult for Boston to achieve the goals of its Climate Action Plan, the report says.
At least 12 Massachusetts health care facilities currently have CHP systems serving their buildings or campuses, with Longwood’s as the largest. Other notable CHP systems include the 426 kW biomass-fired system at the Cooley Dickinson Memorial Hospital in Northampton and the newly upgraded 17.5 MW system at the UMass Medical campus in Worcester, the report says.
The current 82 GW of CHP in the US provides about 12 percent of US annual electricity production, according to a recent report by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. An estimated 130 GW of CHP potential can be found today in existing facilities, but CHP represents only 8 percent of installed electric generating capacity, the report says.