Solar panels are installed on the roof at West Coast General Hospital.

West Coast General turns to solar power for air conditioning

A combined project utilizing renewable energy is underway at West Coast General Hospital.

A combined project utilizing renewable energy is underway at West Coast General Hospital.

A roof-top makeover is in progress at the hospital where photovoltaic solar panels are being installed.

Victor Noll, facilities, maintenance and operations manager at WCGH, said the solar panels are expected to be installed and ready to go by mid-March.

There are 404 solar panels being installed, said Scott Fleenor, principal at Terratek Energy Solutions, the company tendered for the install. Fleenor thinks this is the largest photovoltaic installation on the Island.

The solar panels will help reduce operating costs, energy consumption and waste for the hospital while producing energy locally.

In addition to the solar panels, a new chiller, which is a system that provides cooling to the building, is also being installed at WCGH.

Deanna Fourt,  Island Health’s director of energy efficiency and conservation, said energy studies done in the past determined that by installing a heat-recovery chiller at WCGH they could use waste heat for the hospital’s domestic hot water.

Fourt said the heat-recovery chiller will lower greenhouse gas emissions and the use of fossil fuels, but will increase the hospital’s electrical consumption.

To mitigate the increase in power usage from the new chiller, Fourt said photovoltaic solar panels were decided for the hospital’s roof. This is the first photovoltaic solar panels that generate electricity for a healthcare facility on the Island.

“The thought was, well, when we’re in the chilling, cooling modes, or high chilling cooling modes, we will probably have some sunshine around so maybe we could generate our own power.” Fourt said.

“Hot sunny days is when our electricity rates are the highest, because we have high demand, so [the solar panels] will help to offset that.”

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