Background and objectives
Hemodialysis resource use—especially water and power, smarter processing and reuse of postdialysis waste, and improved ecosensitive building design, insulation, and space use—all need much closer attention. Regarding power, as supply diminishes and costs rise, alternative power augmentation for dialysis services becomes attractive. The first 12 months of a solar-assisted dialysis program in southeastern Australia is reported.
Design, setting, participants, & measurements
A 24-m2, 3-kWh rated solar array and inverter—total cost of A$16,219—has solar-assisted the dialysis-related power needs of a four-chair home hemodialysis training service. All array-created, grid-donated power and all grid-drawn power to the four hemodialysis machines and minireverse osmosis plant pairings are separately metered. After the grid-drawn and array-generated kilowatt hours have been billed and reimbursed at their respective commercial rates, financial viability, including capital repayment, can be assessed.
From July of 2010 to July of 2011, the four combined equipment pairings used 4166.5 kWh, 9% more than the array-generated 3811.0 kWh. Power consumption at 26.7 c/kWh cost A$1145.79. Array-generated power reimbursements at 23.5 c/kWh were A$895.59. Power costs were, thus, reduced by 76.5%. As new reimbursement rates (60 c/kWh) take effect, system reimbursements will more than double, allowing both free power and potential capital pay down over 7.7 years. With expected array life of ∼30 years, free power and an income stream should accrue in the second and third operative decades.
Solar-assisted power is feasible and cost-effective. Dialysis services should assess their local solar conditions and determine whether this ecosensitive power option might suit their circumstance.