Mediclinic International, the private hospital group, is putting action behind its sustainable development strategy and walking the talk after it announced on Friday that its Southern African division had entered a $152 million (about R2.2 billion) deal to buy renewable electricity from Energy Exchange of Southern Africa.
The group said the goal was to mitigate rising electricity costs as it works towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
South Africa has seen a spate of electricity price hikes amid a moribund economy hit by Covid-19 disruption.
Dr Ronnie van der Merwe, the chief executive, said, “All divisions are taking steps to reduce their electricity consumption intensity through the adoption of the ISO 14001:2015 environmental management system. This will lead to improved operational efficiency of technical installations; the introduction of various new energy-efficient and renewable technologies; and changes in employee behaviour regarding energy use.”
Mediclinic has divisions in Switzerland, Southern Africa (South Africa and Namibia) and the United Arab Emirates, through Hirslanden, Mediclinic Southern Africa and Mediclinic Middle East, respectively.
Mediclinic cautioned that entering into the deal was a smaller-related party transaction as Remgro, which holds a 45 percent shareholding in Mediclinic, and was one of the founding partners and 35 percent shareholder in Energy Exchange.
Energy Exchange is a platform where independent power producers in South Africa can sell renewable energy.
The group said on Friday that Energy Exchange was currently the only platform able to connect businesses with electricity generated by Independent power producers and which would have the necessary agreements in place with the state utility provider, Eskom, and local municipalities to make use of their networks for the distribution of renewable electricity.
“While Mediclinic strongly believes that the use of renewable energy is important in ensuring a healthy planet for future generations, reducing consumption by investing in energy-efficient equipment and renewable energy sources also assists in mitigating rising electricity costs. In addition, the agreement will likely provide an economic benefit as the annual tariff increases are expected to be inflation-linked,“ it said.
Mediclinic’s Sustainable Development report, released in June, identified electricity as the main contributor to the group’s carbon footprint. It said healthcare facilities required significant energy as medical equipment and air filtration and conditioning units at many hospitals ran on a 24/7 basis.
The main sources of direct energy consumption were gas and diesel oil, motor gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas and natural gas.
Its 2021 focus area included concluding renewable energy purchase agreements at five Mediclinic Southern Africa facilities for 8GWh (Gigawatt hours) per year for implementation in full year 2022 and photovoltaic installations at 10 Mediclinic Southern Africa facilities, generating 4.9GWh per year.
The report, noting progress in 2020, said an EBX Data Management System was developed to capture the group’s environmental data, marking the first year in which units of measures and carbon emission activities were aligned.
As regards the Southern African division’s emissions it emitted 173 136 tonnes in 2020 versus 178 417 tonnes in 2019, while its energy consumption was 652 818G gigajoules, with no comparison data to that period.
Mediclinic’s share price on the JSE on Friday closed 0.69 percent lower at R62.14.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE