Central Gippsland Health is undertaking the largest solar project on any health service in eastern Victoria.
CGH Director of Support Services, Jon Millar, said the 1140 solar panels on the roof of the main administration building, linen service and Wilson Lodge at the Sale campus would provide 330kW of power.
Andy McCarthy, Managing Director of Gippsland Solar said the CGH project would be the biggest in the health sector in Gippsland, and possibly all of Victoria. “It’s certainly the biggest project we have worked on,” he added.
Jon said CGH had been looking at solar energy since last year however made the decision earlier this year to proceed because of the expected significant increase in electricity costs from 1 July.
“The project will cost $452,000 but we will get pay-back in three and a half years,” he added.
It is estimated solar will account for 33 per cent of power usage at the adjoining Wilson Lodge Aged Care Facility and 11 per cent of Sale Hospital’s usage.
“As you can imagine, our usage is very high, especially in the hospital, but we estimate we should save around $120,000 a year which can go back into our health service,” Mr Millar said.
Meanwhile Andy said with the cost of solar dropping by 90 per cent in the past 10 years, it made sense for business and industry as well as individuals to look at it as a viable option.
When he started Gippsland Solar seven years ago, the market was mainly residential premises but now, business represents 50 per cent of turnover.
“We had four employees four years ago and now we have 30 to meet the demand,” Mr McCarthy said.
“Solar is a perfect fit for health services and schools, especially as you can inject that capital saved back into services. Other Gippsland hospitals and health services have solar but not on this scale.
“We are now installing around 400 panels a week but by the summer, this will increase to between 600 and 700. And all our employees are from the region.”
The CGH project is expected to be finished at the end of July. In the meantime,
Jon said hopefully the solar project would be the start of a number of other sustainable projects in the pipeline for CGH.