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News - September 2018
Grasping the opportunities
There are still opportunities for NHS organisations to ‘significantly’ reduce their carbon emissions and be more environmentally friendly, despite many trusts having ‘picked all the low-hanging fruit’, experts claim.
A new report from energy firm, Centrica Business Solutions, published to coincide with the NHS’s 70th birthday celebrations, claims that at least £130m could be saved every year by updating old energy systems.
It states that the use of demand-response services, onsite solutions, and monitoring technologies could help the embattled institution ‘take control’ of its energy consumption and ‘turn it into an opportunity’.
A force for good
Managing director, Jorge Pikunic, explains: “Energy could, and should, be a force for good for the NHS, helping to create financial efficiencies and unlock opportunities to make improvements in patient care. However, it needs more support and funding to modernise its hospital estates.”
Currently, NHS acute hospital trusts alone spend an estimated £500m a year on energy costs.
And, along with the wider health and care sector, they have been targeted with reducing emissions, and associated spend, by 80% by 2050 based on a 2008 baseline.
Among the organisations investing in improvements is St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust, based in south London, which recently celebrated a major overhaul of its energy centre, a move that will see annual savings of at least 10%.
Delivered by Centrica, the project is guaranteed to save the hospital over £1m a year with no upfront cost, while also reducing annual carbon emissions by 20% or 6,000 tonnes - equivalent to taking 3,000 cars off the road.
The new energy centre features two combined heat and power (CHP) units that will deliver almost all of the power needed to run the hospital.
Centrica also installed four boilers, a chiller system, and energy-efficient lighting and controls.
Pikunic said: “I believe this is one of the most-significant energy projects in the country and a demonstration of how energy technologies can be combined to transform ageing infrastructure to make it more resilient, reduce costs, and make a positive impact in the environment.”
The new energy centre was delivered under a 15-year Energy Performance Contract (EPC) that will include operations and maintenance support.
EPCs are becoming an increasingly-common way for cash-strapped trusts to invest in the latest energy-efficient technology and they guarantee a specific level of energy savings for a given capital investment, reducing both emissions and energy costs.
And even though much of the ‘low-hanging fruit has been picked’; there are still opportunities for NHS trusts to significantly reduce their impact on the environment.
The Centrica report states: “We believe it is essential that trusts eliminate avoidable spend and optimise operational performance.
“Some energy wastage can be avoided with relatively-simple fixes such as automated lighting sensors and regular boiler maintenance schedules.
“Trusts could also take advantage of more-efficient technologies like combined heat and power systems or LED lighting.”
The report coincides with the launch, by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, of a new £500m investment fund for public-sector organisations and small businesses in London.
The moneypot, delivered through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Amber Infrastructure Group, will support the rollout of energy-saving initiatives where the necessary upfront finance is not always available.
And it was an earlier iteration of the fund that supported the St George’s project.
Measures that are covered include battery storage, electric vehicle rapid charging infrastructure, decentralised energy, small-scale renewables, energy efficiency, and low-carbon data centres.
Khan said: “This is the largest fund of its kind in the UK that will help deliver the low-carbon, sustainable projects and infrastructure London needs to cut energy costs and reduce carbon emissions across our universities, hospitals, museums and small businesses.
“It is a great example of how the public and private sectors can come together to create millions of pounds of investment for low-carbon projects and help fast rack London towards our goal of becoming a zero-carbon city by 2050.”
The fund is supported by key commercial lenders including Lloyds Bank, National Westminster Bank, Santander UK, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and Triodos Bank.