Solar power pilot at flagship Derby hospital

Ilkeston Community Hospital goes live with one of UK's largest solar power schemes

212 solar panels have been installed at Ilkeston Community Hospital as part of one of the biggest NHS deployments to date

In one of the biggest deployments to date in the UK, solar power is helping to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions at Ilkestone Community Hospital in Derbyshire.

Since the start of the year, a total of 212 Panasonic solar panels supplied by Eco Environments have been fitted onto the hospital roof and, after being switched on last month, are providing power for the estate.

On a bright, sunny day, the installation is capable of generating up to 50kW of electricity, which is then fed directly into the hospital’s own systems, helping to reduce the cost of purchasing power from the National Grid and reducing the building’s carbon footprint.

John Parrott, who managed the installation for Derbyshire Community Health Services’ estates department, which maintains the hospital, said: “We are delighted by how successful the switch to solar power has been in providing much of the hospital’s electricity. The panels are not yet operating at full capacity due to the short winter days and overcast skies, but are still producing a considerable amount of electricity for the hospital.”

He added: “We can already see that the solar panels will be a big asset in reducing our electricity costs, while at the same time reducing our carbon emissions.”

It is envisaged that over the next 25 years the electricity generated and Feed in Tariff (FIT) payments will benefit Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust by up to £1m and will reduce the hospital’s carbon emissions by 24 tonnes a year.

Parrott said: “We get paid for electricity generated, even though we use it ourselves and don’t envisage creating a surplus. A large proportion of the hospital’s power usage is for lighting, with the remainder being used for computers, plant-rooms and other appliances. An easy comparison is that the solar panels are enabling us to use much of the hospital lighting for free.”

Ilkeston Community Hospital was chosen for its suitability to pilot this solar power scheme out of all the hospitals and health centres run by Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust. A south-facing roof of the right dimensions and slope angle were identified to maximise the effectiveness of the solar power generated. The installation cost nearly £166,500 including VAT.

Parrott said: “We are monitoring this scheme carefully and will be looking to see if we can introduce solar power to some of our other NHS premises across Derbyshire in line with our commitment to reducing our impact on the environment and increasing our cost effectiveness as an organisation. It is a win-win scheme.”

In addition to the solar power pilot, over the past two years most of the trust’s community hospitals have had LED lighting installed, as well as more efficient and carbon-friendly boilers.

Parrott said: “We are presently installing intelligent lighting to the public corridors at Ilkeston Community Hospital, which will only operate when people walk through and when the lighting levels fall below a certain level. This will reduce lighting running costs even further.”

Chris Acton, commercial business development manager at Eco Environments, addedd: “We are delighted with the success Ilkeston Hospital has seen in the short time since the installation went live. Hospitals can make substantial and ongoing savings and vastly improve their energy efficiency by investing in renewable energy schemes such as this and w are talking to a number of other NHS organisations about similar projects.”

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