Sunlight Powers St. Boniface Hospital

Electricity is essential for hospitals to function. SBH is ten miles from the nearest power grid, and even that provides inconsistent electricity to the communities on it. Therefore, SBH must generate its own electricity to run medical equipment, ensure clean water, food, and care for our patients. Our two diesel generators use $110,000 worth of fuel every year, produce dirty exhaust, and need regular repairs to ensure we never fall dark and are unable to care for our patients if both generators were to fail at once. So, for the last year we have been working on a solution that would provide cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable energy for the hospital.

This week, after many months of work, with the aim of becoming more sustainable and energy self-sufficient, SBH turned on its new solar energy system. Thanks to the GE Foundation and anonymous donors for their critical support that made this project possible.

This is the most significant change in energy production since the hospital was first built. The entire system consists of more than 600 solar panels spread across the three large hospital buildings. 130 batteries store the energy produced by the panels and feed it into the hospital’s electrical system.

turning on the new solar power system

Turning on the solar system.

solar power system batteries

Batteries keep the whole system running.

When the system was first designed, we predicted that over 70% of the hospital’s power needs would be provided by the solar panels. Now, because of the huge increase in our patient population over the past year (and related increase in energy usage to care for those patients) we expect the current solar energy system to provide over half of the hospital’s energy needs. The two generators will still be used to recharge the batteries and power the hospital when needed. We’re hoping to expand the solar energy system in the future to cover all the hospital’s energy needs.

HEI/SBH is proud to join the movement to reduce our environmental impact and improve the health and wellbeing of our patients and staff through clean, reliable solar energy.