NHS could save £2.8bn on energy through system upgrades

The NHS could unlock savings of £187m a year by upgrading outdated energy systems, according to new research by Centrica Business Solutions. The saving amounts to £2.8bn over a typical 1- year energy contract.

 The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust
The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust

The new research is published in the Powering Britain’s Public Sector report that assesses the economic opportunity of public-sector organisations adopting green technology.


The study found that if just half of all NHS trusts updated their energy systems – by deploying technology like combined heat and power (CHP) units, battery storage, and solar panels – it would deliver the following:

  • a 15% saving on energy bills, enough to pay the salaries of more than 5,800 nurses.

  • an annual emissions saving of 450,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, around 9% of the sector’s current carbon footprint and the equivalent of taking more than 295,000 cars off the road.

  • the carbon reduction savings could be doubled with the injection of around 20% green gas – a type of gas created from biodegradable material – into the fuel mix.

Leading the way

The new report examines the impact that the adoption of distributed energy technology would have on the university, healthcare, and defence sectors.

Distributed energy solutions are designed to help organisations take control of their energy, so that it’s produced and managed at the point of use, often independent of the grid.

Combined, the three public-sector estates are responsible for more than 7.8m tonnes of carbon emissions each year and have been challenged by the Government to reduce emissions by 30% by 2020/21, and hit ‘net zero’ by 2050.

Alan Barlow, director of UK and Ireland at Centrica, said: “Despite the Chancellor’s recent commitment to provide an additional £6.2bn of NHS funding, it remains under intense pressure, both to reduce costs and to meet emission targets.

“What’s clear is that the NHS must deliver uninterrupted patient care, and that can be energy intensive.

“Better energy management through  distributed energy will be vital in helping the NHS to meet carbon reduction targets and release money that can be redirected towards frontline care.”

Taking responsibility

Centrica aims to deliver £300m in energy efficiency savings for the public sector and essential services globally by 2030 as part of its responsible business ambitions.

It has asked government to provide a simplification of procurement frameworks and to create a stable and long-term regulatory environment.

Case study

The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust partnered with Centrica to reduce the amount it spends on energy in order to release funds that can be channelled into frontline patient care.

It invested £7m in a new 1.5MW combined heat and power unit (CHP) that will generate energy onsite at Wonford Hospital and installed solar panels at Wonford and Heavitree hospitals and at Mardon Neuro-Rehabilitation Centre.

CHP technology works by converting gas into both electricity and heat in a single process. It’s one of the most-efficient sources of energy production, allowing the generation of a significant amount of energy on-site - thus improving the resilience of supply and reducing costs.

The energy technology will save the trust £800,000 on its annual energy bills and reduce yearly emissions by more than 2,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide – equivalent to taking almost 1,500 cars off the road. 

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