Advocacy

Dr Supat Hasuwannakit's Alternative Energy Initiative At Jana Hospital


This Songkhla hospital has become famous for powering itself with solar energy. The Futurist Magazine talks to Dr Supat to learn more

Under the directorship of Dr. Supat Hasuwannakit, Jana Hospital, a 72-bed community facility in Songkhla Province, has become famous in Thailand for its use of solar energy. The doctor’s alternative energy initiative saw the hospital install 72 kilowatt solar cells at a cost of 2.5 million baht, helping to reduce energy costs by almost 1 million baht a year from total costs of 3 million baht in 2016 when the project started.

Dr Supat Hasuwannakit is known as a staunch environmental and alternative energy advocate who in recent times has been very vocal on the planned Jana Industrial Estate. His integrity is evidenced by the fact that the Rural Doctor Society recently elected him as its new president. The role requires the incumbent to ensure there is no disparity in public health services in rural areas and to act as a watchdog guarding against irresponsible policies and practices. The good doctor is eminently qualified on both counts.

The Jana Hospital Model for solar energy is now recognized as a template for clean energy hospitals. The Rural Doctor Society recently launched a campaign called Fai Jak Fah (Sky Power Hospital) under the concept of Clean Energy For Life at 77 hospitals throughout the country. The hospitals will raise funds through the project’s website to install solar panels, and energy cost reductions will be translated to improve treatments and services for patients. In Dr. Supat’s own words…

What is the significance of Jana Hospital’s energy reduction efforts?

The installation of solar panels not only helped to reduce the hospital's energy bills, but also reflected the role of the Ministry of Public Health as a change maker in Thai society with regards to environmental concerns and global warming. It underlines the determination of the public health sector to create a society that is moving towards clean energy, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

All hospitals use more power during the day than at night, so it makes sense to install solar panels to produce energy. Using the on-grid system in which energy produced does not require storage is the most practical and efficient method, and the most cost efficient in terms of investment and maintenance.

In reducing energy bills by a million baht, or a third of its total annual energy costs, Jana Hospital has become a model that shows what is possible—in addition to other measures such as alternating the use of high-energy electrical equipment, changing electrical equipment to inverter types that are more energy-efficient, installing LED bulbs and so on. Installing solar panels is a win-win proposition because they create clean energy that helps to reduce global warming, they remove some of the power generation burden from the state and they dramatically reduce the energy expenses of the institution involved.

I think every hospital and every organization that consumes a lot of electricity during the day should install solar panels. Think of the long-term ecological benefits and the savings on tax-payers’ money. This would reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuel-based electricity generation, thereby reducing global warming.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on the Fai Jah Fah project involving 77 hospitals. We are trying to raise funds of 230 million baht to install 100 kilowatt solar panels at the hospitals. This should help each of those institutions reduce their energy costs by 720,000 baht per year for a period of 25 years.I think it is high time that all major buildings, whether in the public or private sector, have roofs that can generate energy.

What is your ultimate goal?

My dream is clear and simple: I would like every single roof of every house, building, and office to have solar panels on it generating energy for personal use. This will reduce the need for electricity from fossil fuel-burning generating plants, help to reduce greenhouse gases and global warming, save inestimable amounts of money and build a better world for ourselves and our children.