NHS trusts are being urged to invest in the latest energy-saving technologies to meet tough carbon reduction targets
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, claims that at least £130m could be saved every year by updating old energy systems. The use of demand-response services, onsite solutions, and monitoring technologies could help the NHS ‘take control’ of its energy consumption’ it says.
A force for good
Managing director, Jorge Pikunic, explains: “Energy 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.
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.
Case study - St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust
St George’s in South London, has, through Centrica, recently overhauled its energy centre - a move that will see annual savings of at least 10%. That is 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.
Pikunic describes this as 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.”
It is composed of two combined heat and power (CHP) units that will deliver almost all of the power needed to run the hospital, four boilers, a chiller system, and energy-efficient lighting and controls.
Reducing costs through EPCs
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.
Eliminating avoidable spend and optimising operational performance
This is an essential goal for trusts the Centrica report states.
“Some energy wastage can be avoided with relatively-simple fixes such as automated lighting sensors and regular boiler maintenance schedules. And there are more-efficient technologies like combined heat and power systems or LED lighting.”
The Mayor of London’s energy fund
The report coincides with Sadiq Khan’s 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, funds energy-saving initiatives where the necessary upfront finance is not always available.
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.
Measures that are covered include battery storage, electric vehicle rapid charging infrastructure, decentralised energy, small-scale renewables, energy efficiency, and low-carbon data centres.
“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-track London towards our goal of becoming a zero-carbon city by 2050,” says Khan.
The fund is supported by key commercial lenders including Lloyds Bank, National Westminster Bank, Santander UK, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and Triodos Bank.