Taranaki Base Hospital commissions new emergency energy centre

10 June 2024

If the mains supply to Taranaki Base Hospital is cut or disrupted, staff and patients can rest assured the hospital will continue to operate as normal thanks to a new energy centre.

This is thanks to the two new 1.8MVa generators that have been installed in the hospital’s new purpose-built energy centre, which can run for 72 hours before needing to be refuelled.

Cameron Grant-Fargie, emergency management lead at Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora Taranaki, says the generators have been tested and are all set to kick into gear and restore power to the Hospital within seconds, ensuring all clinical services can continue as normal with more power capacity than the campus needs to operate.

“It’s great news for the province to have the Taranaki Base Hospital energy centre up and running. It has been designed and built specifically to improve the overall resilience of the hospital’s campus-wide infrastructure and ensure a power supply to the hospital is always maintained, even in the event of a volcanic eruption,” says Grant-Fargie.

“Considering there is a 50 per cent chance Taranaki Maunga will erupt within the next 50 years, it’s something we need to be prepared for.”

The commissioning of the energy centre and the new generators has been no mean feat. It has involved years of planning and an impressive collaborative effort from the whole Project Maunga Team, including Leighs Construction, Wells Instrument and Electrical, and the hospital’s onsite engineering team.

To test the generators, and gain assurance that they function and can successfully power the hospital, the power supply had to be completely disconnected.

“Disconnecting the power to a hospital is not something to be taken lightly. Prior to the testing, we undertook a huge amount of preparatory work to minimise any disruption to clinical care. This included working with all clinical units to examine and plan how they would deliver clinical care without power or by relying on large batteries as backups,” says Grant-Fargie.

“We were thrilled how well it went. Just as we had planned, the hospital solely operated on power produced from our Energy Centre for 30 minutes. What’s more there was no disruption to acute surgeries or other sensitive clinical procedures.”

Historically, the hospital has comfortably operated on a single emergency generator. This had to be substantially upgraded for the New East Wing Building, which is scheduled to open in 2025, because the hospital’s overall power demand will increase significantly.

The existing generator will now be refurbished and installed alongside the two new generators in the Energy Centre to ensure the hospital will continue to always have greater generator capacity than what it needs to function.

“It’s reassuring to know that in the event of an emergency or an eruption, our hospital will be able to continue to function as normal, with powered equipment operating. In terms of a resilient health facility, we’re right up there,” says Grant-Fargie

One of the two new 1.8MVa generators installed at the new Taranaki Base Hospital Energy Centre.

Last updated: Monday, June 10, 2024

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