Public-sector hospitals are leading government’s environment-friendly drive by replacing their coal-fired boilers with equipment that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG).
The hospitals include the Dr Yusuf Dadoo Hospital, in Krugersdorp, Discoverers’ Memorial Hospital, in Roodepoort, Kopanong Hospital, in Vereeniging, and Tembisa Hospital, in Olifantsfontein – all based in Gauteng.
As of October last year, the hospitals have been implementing a project to replace their existing coal-fired boilers with gas-to-dual-fuel boilers. The gas is supplied by CNG supplier Virtual Gas Network (VGN), a division of CNG company CNG Holdings.
CNG Holdings MD Stephen Rothman says CNG is transported and also used in gas form, which makes it an efficient combusting energy source. In addition to this, he says VGN’s road transport system makes natural gas much more accessible to customers.
“Furthermore, thanks to stable pricing – energy prices are regulated by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa – the hospitals can also ensure better budgeting and, unlike coal and heavy fuel oil, which are paid for on delivery, the hospitals only pay for the gas that they have used,” says Rothman.
CNG Holdings says the new light fuel oil and natural gas boilers that the hospitals are installing not only deliver benefits to the hospitals, but also enable them to meet the Gauteng Health Department’s requirement to reduce carbon emissions.
In its 2014/15 Budget Vote Speech, the department says it aims to reduce carbon emissions by hospitals in the province, and that 77 old coal-fired boilers in 25 hospitals will be replaced with dual-fired diesel or natural gas boilers.
In addition, the department says feasibility studies are also under way to establish a gas pipeline to support the boilers as well as trigeneration plants at the hospitals.
The boiler replacements fall under the Health Department’s ten-pillar programme entailing transformation, modernisation and reindustrialisation in the Gauteng province, says CNG Holdings.
The department has set out to turn around all public health institutions within the next five years, and stabilising finances and reducing carbon emissions are key aspects of the programme, adds the company.
Meanwhile, CNG Holdings says the early twenty-first century has been characterised by growing fears around issues such as pollution, dwindling natural resources and climate change, which makes environment-friendly industry practices important.
The company adds that, while the benevolent public sentiment that goes along with such practices is good for any organisation’s image, there are far more practical reasons for a company to go green – which include lowering its carbon footprint, increasing its cost savings and supporting government policies.
CNG Holdings comprises two other divisions. NGV Gas supplies fleet owners, buses, trucks, taxis and cars with natural gas through its filling stations. It also retrofits existing traditional filling stations and provides in-house natural gas filling facilities.
The CNG Technology division supplies CNG equipment and offers advice and support to help industrial users and transport owners convert to natural gas. The division also assists with the conversion of traditional vehicles to enable them to run on natural gas. The division also services vehicles that run on natural gas.
Further, CNG Holdings also has a pressure regulating plant used to supply gas to boilers, which is designed to ensure spare capacity and redundancy of supply.
This entails having two gas lines that run through separate regulators, with the regulators, in turn, allowing for the high-pressure gas to be converted into a much lower pressure for use in boilers.
Rothman adds that having two lines, two regulators and heating capabilities not only provides redundancy of supply of gas, but also makes the maintenance of boilers easier as this can be conducted one line at a time, which means the system does not need to be completely shut down.
“These redundancy measures are extra features built into our products to enable safer, consistent and more effective supply of the natural gas, and are a standard offering for all VGN customers. We also have built-in safety features, including gas sensors and an automatic shutdown system,” he concludes.