From Load Shedding to Constant Care: How Solarus Empowers South African Hospitals

In 2022, the Minister of Health stated that “load shedding is a risk to the efforts to deliver on our constitutional mandate of protecting, promoting and maintaining the health, safety and well-being of patients and the public by ensuring quality pharmaceutical service for all South Africans.”

With patients’ lives hanging in the balance, there is an undeniable need for sustainable energy solutions in the healthcare industry. Surgeries are forced to halt when load-shedding escalates from one stage to another, and if there are alternative power sources available (unlikely in rural areas), these solutions are unable to last for more than a few hours without recharging. 

As a decision-maker in the healthcare industry, your mission is not just to deliver exceptional patient care but to do so sustainably, efficiently, and cost-effectively. Yet the challenges facing South Africa’s healthcare sector – from resource constraints and equity issues to the burden of load shedding – are complex. 

Enter Solarus. In this article, we’ll explore how Solarus’ innovative Hybrid Solar Solution can alleviate pressure on healthcare infrastructures, contribute to environmental stewardship, and present economic benefits, all while ensuring uninterrupted, high-quality patient care. 

“We bring comfortability and energy security to the healthcare industry, which are two very important factors they want to secure for their clients.” – Solarus.

South Africa’s Healthcare Infrastructure Under Severe Pressure

COVID-19 dealt a brutal blow to the healthcare industry in South Africa, only for load-shedding to strike and introduce a host of new, life-threatening challenges. These challenges require concerted government, private sector, and civil society efforts to address. 

The following key challenges are common among our healthcare facilities today: 

  • Resource Constraints. South Africa’s public healthcare sector suffers from chronic underfunding and understaffing. Limited budgets lead to inadequate infrastructure, a lack of essential medical equipment, and a shortage of healthcare professionals. 

This can lead to long waiting times for treatments and procedures, affecting the quality of patient care.

  • Inequity in Access to Healthcare. There is a considerable divide between private and public healthcare services in South Africa. While private healthcare facilities often offer high-quality care, they are expensive and inaccessible to many low-income South Africans. On the other hand, public healthcare facilities are often under-resourced and overburdened. 

The National Health Insurance Bill proposes a solution to the above discrepancy, but many professionals doubt its ability to succeed. 

  • Load Shedding. The lack of a reliable power supply can disrupt the functioning of critical equipment and healthcare services, putting patients’ lives at risk. This forces hospitals and clinics to invest in costly backup generators to ensure continuous power supply, which further strains their limited budgets.
  • Healthcare Challenges Related to Disease Burden. South Africa has a high disease burden, with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and non-communicable diseases like diabetes and hypertension being particularly prevalent. Many of these medications also require refrigeration, conditions that are hard to maintain during power outages. 
  • COVID-19 Impact. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and amplified existing inefficiencies and resource gaps, leading to an urgent need for robust, resilient, and sustainable healthcare infrastructure. 

A New Hope: Solarus Hybrid Solar Solution in Healthcare

Solarus is revolutionising how healthcare institutions generate and consume hot water, a vital resource for maintaining optimal hygiene and sterilisation. As one of the most efficient options available, Solarus leverages innovative solar technology to provide a cost-effective alternative to traditional hot water systems

Our unique feature is a unique design that allows us to capture solar irradiation and transform it into electricity and thermal energy from the same installation area, thereby maximising energy output.

Solarus’ commitment to sustainability provides a significant competitive edge in a sector as energy-intensive as healthcare. Our proven and reliable next-generation solar technologies enable your hospital to dramatically reduce its electricity costs while enjoying uninterrupted hot water and power for all critical activities – even during load shedding.  

The Economic Benefits of Solarus Solar Solution in Healthcare

Healthcare costs are under scrutiny, and budgets are tight. In this environment, the Solarus Hybrid Solar Solution offers an effective way to reduce your operational expenses. Healthcare institutions like yours can reap substantial economic benefits by harnessing the sun’s power, while contributing to environmental sustainability.

Benefits include the following:

  • Cost Savings. By using renewable electric and thermal energy, your healthcare facility can dramatically reduce its dependence on traditional (often costly) energy sources. This leads to substantial savings on utility bills, directly impacting the bottom line. 

Solarus’ Hybrid Solar Solution also provides hot water at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods to save you considerable amounts annually.

  • Increased Efficiency. The unique design of Solarus’ solution, which combines photovoltaic and thermal technology, leads to higher energy output from the same solar collection area. 

This higher efficiency equates to more energy produced per rand invested than traditional solar solutions. It means that you can extract more value from your investment.

  • Long-term Profitability. Solarus’ Hybrid Solar Solution generates over four times more energy per square meter than standard photovoltaic solutions, leading to three times more profitability. 

This increased profitability makes it an attractive investment proposition for hospitals and other healthcare facilities seeking to maximise the return on their investments in infrastructure.

  • Lower Maintenance Costs. Solarus’ Hybrid Solar Solution is designed for durability and requires less maintenance than traditional energy systems. This results in reduced ongoing operational costs, further enhancing its economic value.
  • Stable Energy Costs. By generating its own energy, your healthcare institution is less exposed to fluctuations in energy prices. This predictability provides financial stability and allows for more accurate budgeting and planning.
  • Potential for Financial Incentives. By investing in solar and thermal energy, healthcare institutions might be eligible for various local, regional, or national financial incentives or grants to promote renewable energy use. 

These incentives can significantly offset the initial investment costs.

Environmental Benefits of Solarus Solar Solution in Healthcare

By choosing Solarus, your healthcare institution can meet its energy needs cost-effectively and champion environmental stewardship. You set a positive example for patients, staff, and the wider community while boosting your organisation’s reputation. 

Benefits include the following:

  • Reduction in CO2 Emissions. Solarus’ Hybrid Solar Solution allows healthcare institutions to meet a larger portion of their energy needs through renewable electric and thermal energy, significantly reducing their dependence on fossil fuels. 

As a result, they can achieve a four-fold reduction in CO2 emissions compared to traditional energy sources.

  • Promotes Renewable Energy. By harnessing the sun’s power, Solarus encourages using renewable resources instead of finite, polluting fossil fuels. Solar power is abundant, free, and non-polluting, making it one of the most sustainable forms of energy available. 

By adopting Solarus’ solution, you can directly contribute to the increased use and advancement of renewable energy technologies.

  • Reduces Energy Waste. Solarus’ unique photovoltaic and thermal technology integration allows it to capture electric and thermal energy from the same installation. This results in less energy waste compared to conventional systems.
  • Conserves Water Resources. Solarus’ Hybrid Solar Solution’s application for heating water can also contribute to water conservation. Traditional water heating systems can lead to significant water wastage due to inefficiencies in heat transfer. 

However, Solarus’ system ensures that more water is effectively heated, thus reducing unnecessary water usage.

  • Mitigates of Heat Island Effect. Traditional energy sources often exacerbate the urban heat island effect, a phenomenon where urban and suburban areas experience higher temperatures than their rural surroundings. 

Solarus’ solution, by harnessing and converting solar radiation rather than adding to ambient heat, can help mitigate this effect.

A Closer Look at Installing Solarus Hybrid Solar Solution in Healthcare

We have a project planned for a hospital in Cape Town, a hospital that desperately requires a continuous supply of hot water for various important applications such as showering, laundry, kitchen use, and cleaning. Our team of Hot Water Specialists aim to have the project integrated with the current hot water system within a span of just two weeks. 

Moreover, we understand the essential nature of hot water availability in a hospital environment. Therefore, we aim for minimal off time for the hospital – less than two hours – during installation to reduce disruption.

“There are always challenges, which for every hospital will come out during a feasibility study. However, we have not encountered any challenge which could not be countered.” – Solarus. 

The good news is that Solarus prides itself on a thorough approach to feasibility studies, which enables us to anticipate and navigate the unique challenges that may arise for each healthcare facility. 

Our Commitment to Healthcare Facilities

We always enter into Operation and Maintenance (O&M) agreements with the installer for each project. Our solution requires minimal O&M, and all potential costs are projected and communicated upfront with the hospital in our simulations. As a result, our customers are never caught off guard by unexpected expenses. 

“In our simulations, we have a very conservative approach, so in most cases, the real business case is more favourable for the end user.” – Solarus.

Look Ahead To A Brighter, Warmer Future with Solarus 

As patients stir in their beds, surgeons prepare to operate, and staff hurry through the corridors to attend to the day’s work, Solarus’ solar solutions transforms the sun’s irradiation to save the hospital from the negative impacts of impromptu load shedding.

With Solarus’ Hybrid Solar Solution in place, hospitals can save a significant amount of money on their utility bills and thus channel these funds directly into patient care and resources to improve staff and patient experiences. 

“Our mission is to provide healthcare institutions with a reliable, affordable, and sustainable source of hot water that aligns with their environmental goals without compromising on their operational needs.” – Solarus. 

Request a free quote from Solarus. Let’s welcome a cleaner, cheaper, and healthier future – together.