NHS can achieve the largest carbon and cost savings by installing CHP

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The National Audit Office (NAO) has stated that the NHS can achieve the largest carbon and cost savings in building energy use by installing combined heat and power (CHP) in acute trusts.

In its new ‘NHS and Sustainability’ report to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, the NAO estimates that the NHS could save £180 million a year by reducing carbon emissions. This would pay for approximately 7,750 registered nurses..

CHP has been adopted by many trusts and has been championed by the NHS Sustainable Development Unit and the Carbon and Energy Fund, which have worked with trusts and private sector CHP providers to decarbonise energy infrastructure across the NHS estate.

Among those proving the case for CHP is the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, which partnered with combined heat and power specialist ENER-G in 2008 to install CHP at two of its acute hospital sites.

The ENER-G CHP systems at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital and Solihull Hospital have since achieved 23,151 tonnes of carbon savings. This equates to the environmental benefit of removing 7,717 cars from the road, or the carbon dioxide offset by an 18,976 acre forest, which would cover 303,616 tennis courts.

The trust’s transition to low carbon heat and power, together with the wider refurbishment of its electricity, heating and cooling infrastructure, is also achieving energy and operational cost savings of nearly £1.6 million per year – guaranteed by ENER-G over a 15-year contract period.

By replacing the coal-fired energy infrastructure at Birmingham Heartlands and a steam-based system at Solihull with high efficiency CHP, the trust was able to replace ageing equipment with technology that is almost twice as efficient because the waste heat from power generation is captured and used on site for heating and cooling.

Chris Marsland, Technical Director for ENER-G Combined Power Ltd, said: “The Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust has shown environmental leadership in converting to CHP and is reaping the benefits in impressive cost and carbon savings.  In acute hospitals, where there is a 24/7 heat demand, CHP is the perfect fit and the savings really stack up, especially when you factor in the operational savings of replacing and maintaining ageing boilers. I’m pleased to see the NAO recognising the great benefits CHP can bring to the hospital estate and the opportunities it gives trusts to focus scarce resources on patients.”

According to the NHS Sustainable Development Unit, the NHS currently consumes 11,732 GWh of power every year and accounts for 3% of the total UK carbon footprint. The 2014 Sustainable Development Strategy set a target for a 34% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across the health and social care system by 2020, compared to the 1990 baseline. In 2012, the NHS footprint was 6% below the baseline, which means that a 4% reduction is required per year from 2013 to 20120. CHP has an ambitious role to play in achieving the necessary quick win carbon savings to work towards this ambitious target.

The NAO report will inform an enquiry by the Environmental Audit Committee.  

ENER-G is a European market leader in small scale CHP and has completed more than 50 CHP-led integrated energy management projects across the healthcare sector. It is an approved supplier to the NHS Shared Business Services Carbon and Energy Fund.

Further information: www.energ.co.uk/chp

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