by Manpreet Singh Manna
The healthcare sector is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions. CO2 emissions in India rebounded strongly in 2021 to rise 80 Mt above 2019 levels, led by an increase in coal use for electricity generation. Given this scenario, global leaders and health experts across the world have identified the health implications of the faster-changing environment while working on effective solutions. Hence, hospitals and healthcare systems are investing in clean, renewable energy to protect patient health, increase the resilience in operations to disasters, and reduce energy costs. According to the Environment Performance Index-2022, India has been ranked at 168th position out of 180 countries. To help improve this score, various NGOs are transforming the health sector in India to make the country more ecologically sustainable and become a leading advocate for environmental health and justice. Industries are increasingly switching to renewable energy, improving devices’ energy efficiency, and reducing electricity consumption to reduce its overall impact on the Environment.
Some of the solutions that can be opted to ensure green solutions:
Solar-based solutions prove to be an effective mechanism for reducing carbon footprints. The Chhattisgarh State Renewable Energy Development Agency (CREDA) and State Health Department in India have partnered to set up, operate, and maintain solar PV systems in 900 health centres and district hospitals to minimize their carbon footprint and build overall resiliency. Solar energy does not pollute the air, reduces the carbon footprint, has no fossil fuel dependency and has zero energy production costs. Interestingly, a solar-based self-driven patient carrying stature was patented with the Indian patent journal office last year. The stature is GPS enabled and rings an alarm to passers-by to get easy and speedy access to its path with motor-driven wheels and all energy being generated through solar PV panels. Most energy consumption in health care centres come from illumination, active diagnostic equipment, and building automated systems. The mentioned demands can be catered to using solar panels and electric energy. For example, solar geysers offer effective arrangements for hospitals where steam/hot water is in heavy demand for all kinds of sterilization processes, cleaning of bacteria full coverings/sheets, patient’s clothing etc. Another renewable energy source, wind energy, can also play a significant role in cost-effective solutions. Wind power is freely and abundantly available, has no emissions in operation, and can generate a large amount of electricity. The Aerodynamic structure of ward rooms ensures natural air circulation so that air conditioners in OPD areas and general wards can be avoided. Windmills in the vicinity of hospitals can be used to generate electricity to meet the day-to-day energy requirement of health care centres. Hydraulic pressure-based equipment with gas or oil-filled compression systems can also reduce electricity consumption when lifting patient during treatment instead of moving electric beds. The hydraulic pneumatic control through an air/liquid system has no carbon emission compared to non-conventional energy sources. Bio waste disposal should be segregated consciously so that green waste can be utilized for fossil fuel production and plantations around the hospitals. Recycling biodegradable waste not only saves the environment but also reduces the treatment cost burden for patients as well. A biomass energy plant can provide sufficient heat energy to be used in the various health care process.
As it relates to decarbonization, the healthcare industry should provide the most effective renewable energy to minimize its environmental impact. As per Global Road Map for Health Care Decarbonization, Green Paper One found that India has the seventh-largest absolute health sector climate footprint in the world (39 Mt CO2e), leading to healthcare emissions. Green solutions have given a new and urgent impetus to implementing advanced solutions. India is actively working to adopt safer and greener solutions. Rooted in India, Healthy Energy Initiative is a global collaboration of health professionals, health organizations, and health researchers who actively engage in science-based advocacy to move away from fossil fuel-based power generation towards cleaner, renewable and healthy energy options to combine the effect of renewable energy to ensure decarbonization at a massive level.
M. S. Manna, Senior Lecturer, Department of Electrical and Instrumentation Engineering, SUET, Longowal.
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