Report reveals how energy technology can help NHS meet carbon reduction targets

16% annual reduction possible through adoption of LED and combined heat and power (CHP) technology, claims Centrica report

Just weeks after it was revealed that NHS trusts are falling behind on their carbon reduction targets, a new report shows how modern technology could help them to get back on track.

The NHS needs to accelerate its efforts to bring down emissions if it is to meet its 2020 targets, showing just how much pressure the healthcare sector is under to bring down carbon production

The healthcare sector could reduce annual carbon emissions by 16% through the adoption of new energy technologies, according to research released this week by Centrica Business Solutions.

This would enable the market to meet around half of the carbon reduction target as set out in the NHS’s Sustainable Development Strategy, which aims for a 34% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020/21.

The Powering sustainability report explores the potential that distributed energy technology, such as LED and combined heat and power, could have in reducing the environmental impact of the healthcare sector.

And it calculated that, if just half of public-sector healthcare organisations in the UK adopted distributed energy technology; the sector could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 483,000 tonnes a year, or the equivalent of 8.8 million tonnes by 2030. This is equal to the annual carbon emissions of 156,000 homes.

Alan Barlow, UK and Ireland director at Centrica Business Solutions, said: “Based on current rates of reduction, the NHS needs to accelerate its efforts to bring down emissions if it is to meet its 2020 targets, showing just how much pressure the healthcare sector is under to bring down carbon production.

“At the same time, cost pressures often make it difficult for organisations to invest in new technology – and modern energy systems are no exception.

“Distributed energy technology offers a solution to this problem.”

Cost pressures often make it difficult for organisations to invest in new technology – and modern energy systems are no exception

And he added that current finance options mean they can often be installed for little or no upfront cost.

“Energy-efficient systems like solar and energy-efficient lighting provide guaranteed emissions reductions and savings on energy bills,” he said.

The document comes hot on the tail of the 32-page annual Health Check report, published late last month, which revealed that, while the NHS had saved more than £90m on waste, water and energy costs over the past 12 months; the number of providers on track to meet carbon reduction targets has dropped from 41% in 2017 to 39% this year.

There are now fewer organisations expected to hit the Government’s expectation of a 34% reduction in overall emissions by 2020 based on baseline figures taken in 2008.

And, in a bid to help trusts keep on track, the Government this week announced a £46m moneypot to enable NHS organisations to improve and expand the use of LED lighting across their estates.

To be made available through Public Dividend Capital, the cash will help to save the NHS money on its energy bills as well as providing a better environment for patients, staff and visitors.

Benefits of LED lighting include a 5%–20% reduction in electricity use; potential carbon savings of up to 45; reduced ongoing maintenance costs; and improved patient and staff experience from a better quality of lighting.

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