CHP Keeps Hospital Running During Hurricane Harvey – DOE EERE Post

By Taylor Jackson – DOE – Originally Posted in US Department of Energy’s EERE AMO Blog

Our thoughts and concerns are with all the people affected by natural disasters like the recent hurricanes and storms. With any major storm, energy reliability and security are major concerns for those in the storm’s path. Medical facilities in particular face significant risks if the power goes out – the ability to use energy for heating and cooling is crucial to patient care, protection of long-term medical research projects, and maintaining living and working conditions within hospitals.

While much of Houston, Texas, and the surrounding areas, were faced with uncertainty

TECO Harvey
Courtesy of TECO

as Hurricane Harvey made landfall, the Texas Medical Center – the largest medical center in the world – was able to sustain its air conditioning, refrigeration, heating, sterilization, laundry, and hot water needs throughout the storm thanks to the combined heat and power (CHP) installation operated by Thermal Energy Corp (TECO). CHP is a way to generate on-site electric power and useful thermal energy (heat) from a single fuel source. TECO’s CHP system at the Texas Medical Center uses natural gas to deliver 48 MW of power to provide reliability and security to the 19 million square foot medical campus even in the event of prolonged grid outages.

Even with rising water levels in the Brays Bayou and other areas around the CHP system, the energy infrastructure operated without interruption through the storm. Although the CHP system was designed primarily to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy costs for the medical center, the events of Hurricane Harvey showed that CHP was also a crucial part of the emergency preparedness plan and helped staff at the Texas Medical Center focus on patient care without fear of losing power. The Texas Medical Center includes medical research and care facilities like the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Texas Children’s Hospital, and the 16 other institutions.

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