Your health care organization's vision for the future should include having more and more of your health information technology (HIT) infrastructure powered by alternative "hybrid" energy systems that tap into solar, wind, hydro, and traditional electrical energy sources.
In the health care industry there are compelling reasons to acquire and implement hybrid energy systems. These include providing continuity of care during major natural and man-made disasters and providing power for health IT systems in remote locations around the world where there is unreliable electrical service.
In early 2000, a preliminary analysis of solar powered computer systems surfaced very few examples or references related to this subject. However, the times have changed. More efficient solar energy systems are now being produced at lower costs which are becoming attractive alternatives, especially as the price of oil climbs ever higher.
The number of examples where Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) solar energy components are being used to power computer systems has increased dramatically, including installations by health care facilities in a wide range of locations around the world. The following examples focus primarily on the current status of solar power solutions as they have been deployed in health care settings around the world.
Health IT Systems in Scotland - At Napier University's Merchiston campus in Scotland solar panels are being installed that will generate enough electricity to power up to 80 of the 500 computers at the state-of-the-art Jack Kilby Centre. See http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/edinburgh.cfm?id=363002005
Solar Energy Project Enhances CDC Health Care Facility in Kenya - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Initiative facility in Homa Bay, Kenya, benefits from a solar energy power system that delivers reliable power and reduce losses of vital medicine and laboratory test samples.
BioRegion and Mongolian Hospital - BioRegion's solar project in Renchinlhumbe, Mongolia, focuses on two strategic community centers—a boarding school and a hospital. See http://www.bioregions.org/pdfs/solar.pdf
USAID & Kakuuto Hospital in Uganda - USAID youth volunteers are working with "Solar Light for Africa", a faith-based non-governmental organization, in providing solar power to clinics, orphanages, schools and churches. This includes solar power for computers. See http://www.usaid.gov/stories/uganda/fp_uganda_solar.pdf#search='solar%20powered%20hospital%20computers'
SELF and the Solomon Islands – The SELF organization is now bringing solar power to approximately a dozen rural health clinics throughout Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands. They are providing dependable solar electricity for critical medical devices including computers, microscope, oxygen concentrators, and dental equipment. See http://www.self.org/sol_islands2.asp
Monmouth Ocean Hospital Service Corporation (MONOC) - In 2005, the largest emergency medical services agency in New Jersey flipped the switch on a 119 kilowatt solar energy system that provides about 20 percent of its electricity needs while contributing to a cleaner, healthier environment. MONOC is believed to be the only major health care organization in the state to invest in such a renewable energy system.
SUN in Haiti and the Congo - SUN and partner Dinh Solar Company have developed a pioneering solar medical autoclave, photovoltaic power generator, and solar hot water and disinfectant system for remote hospitals in the villages of Morbin Crochu in Haiti, and Bulape in south central Congo. Photovoltaics (PV) provide electricity for lighting, refrigeration of medicines, a computer system, and an x-ray machine. See http://www.sunutility.com/html_pg/healthcare.html
Finally, the Alternative 'Green' Energy and 'Open Source' software movements have an underlying philosophy that is very similar. Both appeal to the ideas of:
- National Security
- Improved Health Status
- Creativity & Innovation
- Being Good Stewards of Resources
Do you know of other examples of health IT systems being powered by alternative energy sources somewhere in the U.S. or around the world? Please share these with us.
American Wind Energy Association - http://www.awea.org
COSI Green Technology – http://green.cositech.net
ECOMall - http://www.ecomall.com/biz/solarcat.htm
EnerSol - http://www.enersol.org/aboutus.html
Green Guide for Health Care - www.gghc.org
MicroHydroPower.Net - http://microhydropower.net/index.php
National Renewable Energy Laboratory - http://www.nrel.gov
Sustainable Village - http://www.thesustainablevillage.com/projects/ghana.html
Solar Wind Works - http://www.solarwindworks.com/index.htm
Virtual Explorers - http://www.virtualexplorers.org/ARD/Dolphin/solar.htm