We should put solar panels on hospital rooftops

A lot of good would come from this. I am not saying hospitals should be solar only, just that they should have it as a supplement. We can lower the cost of healthcare and improve the environment and energy independence in one fell swoop!

You would only lower the cost of healthcare if solar is cheaper than what they are using now, and it isn’t.


Med Evac helicopters land on the roof of my local hospital.

Most hospital roofs are already crowded. With heli pads, often. The Texas Medical Center pools its energy needs:

No mention of solar, but they seem to have their act together. The UT School of Public Health building even has grass on the roof…

Depends on your investment timeframe. Most homeowners where I live (in CA) with decent roof pitch and orientation break even in about 7 years. Or, you can do a leased system with 0 upfront cost and start saving on day 1 ( although you obviously won’t save as much over the years as an owned system).

With or without subsidies?


A mandate to put solar panels on hospital roofs would interfere with the push to establish green roofs.

I personally like the idea of planted roofs, even if most hospital patients won’t be able to see them from their windows.

And anyone who suggests that these and solar roof projects are more about marketing than energy-saving/environmentally friendly actions is a party-pooper.

Why hospitals? They need reliable backups in case the grid power goes down, but they need it at night too; so even even if they installed solar they’d still need the backup.

I’m seeing some businesses around Boston that have installed solar panels. There’s an REI that has put awnings with panels over its parking lot, and a grocery store that has them on its (quite large) roof. Those make a lot of sense to me; they cut the losses of transmitting power over long distances, and they generate their power during the day when a business needs it the most.

Noble idea, but impractical for the reasons cited above. Grocery stores and parking lots, OTOH, are ideal. A number of high schools around here are also installing solar shades over their parking lots, which protects cars from the hot sun and cuts power costs for the district.

There have been a few articles recently on financial sites concerning States that are cutting back on solar subsidies and/or permitting power companies to pay far less for the solar-generated electricity that they “buy back”.

Score one for the deniers???

7 years is with subsidies in my case (California, pitched roof, etc.). Without, ROI in 12 - and I still would have another 13 years of guaranteed performance from my panels.

I doubt a high percentage of hospitals have helipads on the roof so that seems like a pretty silly objection.

I don’t see why hospitals are a particularly good target for solar power compared to any other building. If we want to attach alternative energy to any project it should be driven by usefulness not flavour of the month. I weep at all the solar farms being put up in Ontario. 4 months of the year there isn’t enough sunlight to produce vitamin D let alone power a house.

Do we get to charge extra for people who burn coal? Currently it’s completely free to dump carbon into the atmosphere. I’d much rather tax carbon emissions than subsidize zero-emission energy. Deal?

Anyone know what’s a typical cost of capital for a hospital? 10%? My neighbor’s panels only have a 20-year estimated life. If that’s normal, and I’m ballpark on a discount rate, that’s a poor investment even with subsidies.

A carbon tax is a better idea than solar subsidies, yes. It needs to be applied across the board, though, including on the processes that produce solar panels - the steel and toxic chemicals that go into them, the cost of disposal when they need to be replaced, etc.

But in general, using the power of the market to do cost-benefit is a good idea, especially in situations where the problem of the commons is a major factor.


Every hospital I’ve ever been in, as a patient or visitor, has had a helipad.

Even my podunk town (that I live a bit outside of) has one. And the roof is just a convenient place for it–even if that roof is only one story.

Still, there’s a lot more roof that isn’t a helipad.

I assume because they are one of the few places that need backup generators on standby at all times. Offsetting some of that with solar seems like it might be a good idea.

Hmm, well I guess sneaking out on to the roof to smoke a doobie every time you’re at a hospital made for useful research.


Safety-wise, it might not be a good idea to surround a helipad with reflective panels.