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News archive - September 2016

The future is CHP

The future is CHP

A new NHS sustainability report reveals the health service could save in excess of £26 m a year by increasing adoption of combined heat and power (CHP) technology.

The Securing Heathy Returns Report, which analyses the financial value of key sustainability measures in the NHS, states that CHP provides the biggest energy-saving opportunity - amounting to £26.4m a year. That’s enough to fund the salaries of more than 1,200 newly-qualified registered nurses.

The report, published by the Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) for NHS England and Public Health England, analyses 35 proven measures that it says could achieve a total of £400m of cost savings and reduce carbon emissions by a million tonnes every year by 2020. These interventions were selected because they are supported by robust data and evidence to enable analysis and scaling.

Of the 18 energy-saving measures covered in the report, CHP provides the highest annual potential cost savings (£26.4m), followed by staff energy awareness and behaviour change (£21.5m); high-efficiency lighting (£7.2m); and reducing temperature set points by one degree Celsius (£6.2m).

The SDU states that CHP also has the potential to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 3,750 tonnes a year, which equates to the environmental benefit of removing 1,250 cars from the road, or the carbon dioxide that would be offset by a 3,550 acres of forest - more than three times the size of Sherwood Forest.

CHP is highly efficient because it captures the heat wasted in conventional power generation and uses it for on-site heating and cooling.

One of the early adopters of CHP technology was the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, which partnered with ENER-G to introduce systems at both Birmingham Heartlands and Solihull hospitals.

East Cheshire NHS Trust has also introduced the technology as part of a recent upgrade of its energy infrastructure across two hospitals.

Utilising the the Carbon and Energy Fund framework, the trust partnered with ENER-G to deliver CHP and associated energy efficiency improvements, which will generate guaranteed cost savings of £2.5m over 15 years.

And Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust is also making huge savings through its work with Clarke Energy.

GE Jenbacher CHP units are installed at both London hospitals. The waste heat they generate is utilised for the hospitals’ heating, including space heating and hot water. Because the CHP units are embedded generators located within the hospital grounds, they are also very efficient as virtually no electricity is lost during transmission.

As a result the trust has reported saving carbon dioxide equivalent of around 17,000 passengers flying to New York; and enough energy to power the city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne for a week.

Overall the units will reduce CO2 emissions produced by the trust by almost 11,300 tonnes a year. It will also save the trust more than £1.5m in energy costs annually - one of the largest savings from a CHP for an NHS trust.

A Clarke Energy spokesman said: “For a hospital, using a CHP plant is an ideal way of achieving energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions, while making limited resources go further.”

Chris Marsland, technical director for ENER-G Cogen International, added: “Due to the 24/7 heat demand of acute hospitals, CHP can operate at efficiencies in excess of 85% - more than double that of other coal and gas-fired generation sources the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s half-hourly modelling shows that it displaces.

“As such, the cost and carbon savings really stack up and more hospitals should specify CHP to provide assured cost and carbon savings long into the next decade and beyond.”

The SDU has released an online tool in tandem with the report to assist trusts in implementing sustainability improvements.

A guide to CHP

What is CHP? CHP is a highly-efficient process that captures and utilises the heat that is a by-product of the electricity generation process.

By generating heat and power simultaneously, CHP can reduce carbon emissions by up to 30% compared to the separate means of conventional generation via a boiler and power station.

The heat generated during this process is supplied to an appropriately-matched heat demand that would otherwise be met by a conventional boiler.

CHP systems are highly efficient, making use of the heat that would otherwise be wasted when generating electrical or mechanical power. This allows heat requirements to be met that would otherwise require additional fuel to be burnt.

For many organisations, CHP is the measure that offers the single-most-significant opportunity to reduce energy costs and to improve environmental performance, with existing users of CHP typically saving around 20% of their energy costs.

Benefits for hospitals

  • Energy savings that can be diverted to fund the treatment of patients
  • Financial benefits compared to the separate purchase of electricity and heating fuel
  • Environmental benefits related to reduced carbon emissions
  • Flexible technology that can be used to provide electricity, heating and cooling if required



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