The Regional Health Solar Fund was a $13.5 million initiative funded by the Victorian Government to install solar panels in regional and rural public health services across Victoria.
Solar panels help lower energy bills and cut greenhouse gas emissions, making the running of public hospitals greener and more cost-effective.
The program was estimated to reduce carbon emissions by around 13,000 tonnes per year. The solar panels are set to generate two per cent of our statewide hospital electricity consumption and up to 30 per cent of the electricity used by some hospitals.
The fund also allowed regional hospitals to save on electricity costs, with the program estimated to save participating health services a total of $2.7 million in energy expenditure every year. It also created opportunities for local suppliers to work collaboratively under a cluster sourcing model to enhance community benefits and outcomes.
The Regional Health Solar Fund installed around 8.8 megawatt-peak of solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays across 79 Victorian health facilities, generating more than 11 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy per year.
The program was rolled out regionally to:
Gippsland – 12 sites across seven health services
Barwon South West – 25 sites across 11 health services
Loddon Mallee – 12 sites across 11 health services
Hume – 10 sites across nine health services
Grampians – 15 sites across eight health services.
Five ambulance branches also received solar panels as part of this program.
The Regional Health Solar Fund program aimed to deliver the following benefits:
Improving health by reducing carbon
We recognise that Victorians’ health and wellbeing is directly linked to the health of the environment. Installing solar panels helps cut carbon emissions and contributes to a healthier environment for all Victorians. The Regional Health Solar Fund program reduced annual carbon emissions by around 13,000 tonnes. This helped to minimise the environmental impact of Victoria’s health care system.
Lower energy bills
The Regional Health Solar Fund program was estimated to reduce annual total electricity expenditure for participating health services by around $2.7 million once all the arrays were installed and the loans repaid.
The program installed around 8.8 MWp of solar PV arrays and generated more than 11 GWh of renewable energy per year. This equates to two per cent of statewide hospital electricity consumption and up to 30 per cent of the electricity required by some regional hospitals.
Partnerships and collaboration for better sustainability
Following a successful pilot in Gippsland in 2017, the Regional Health Solar Fund program adopted an innovative ‘cluster’ sourcing approach for the design, supply and installation of solar PV arrays.
This approach increased opportunities for suppliers by grouping health services into regions to enable bulk procurement opportunities and deliver lower purchase costs. For health services, cluster sourcing enabled them to pool resources, reduce duplication of effort and achieve better pricing and service delivery.
The Victorian Health Building Authority and HealthShare Victoria worked in partnership to deliver the Regional Health Solar Fund program. The Victorian Health Building Authority have identified potential sites and administered loans, while HealthShare Victoria implemented collective contracts for the design, supply and installation of solar PV arrays.
After a competitive tender process, the following suppliers were selected for the Regional Health Solar Fund program:
Gippsland region – Energis and Gippsland Solar
Barwon South West region – Keppel Prince Engineering
Loddon Mallee region – Energis, Cola Solar and Solgen
Hume region – Energis, Suntrix and Watters
Grampians region – Energis and Committed Solar Solutions.