Microgrids Help Ensure System’s Sustainability

Two issues spurred growth of microgrids: broader higher-acuity care and increased threat of natural disasters

By By Dan Hounsell
April 12, 2021

The 2019 blackouts in California left some hospitals without steady access to electricity and tested their emergency response strategies, but facilities and communities that focused on resilience have tended to fare the best. Self-sufficient microgrids created pockets of respite during the most recent round of blackouts.

In 2020, Kaiser Permanente became the first U.S. healthcare system to achieve carbon-neutral status, and a renewable energy microgrid project at a hospital in Richmond, Calif., is one example of the organization’s innovative plan to reach its environmental goals, according to Health Facilities Management.

For decades, Kaiser Permanente’s hospitals have had microgrids powered by diesel generators to provide backup power during outages and ensure patient care is not interrupted. Two issues have made microgrids even more essential: higher-acuity care at more locations and the increased threat of outages due to wildfires and extreme heat.

In 2018, the California Energy Commission funded a project at Kaiser Permanente’s Richmond Medical Center to install 1 megawatt-hour of battery storage and a 250-kilowatt solar power system. The project has demonstrated the ability of distributed storage to reduce the demand for electricity powered by fossil fuels and the additional resiliency the renewable energy microgrid provides.

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Topic Area: Sustainable Operations

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