Solar panels prove success at hospital

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SWITCHING to solar power has helped cut Ilkeston Community Hospital’s carbon footprint and made it one of the biggest NHS buildings in the country to use the environmentally-friendly electricity source.

Since the start of the year, a total of 212 solar panels have been installed on the Heanor Road hospital’s roof and in the first few weeks since switch-on, they are proving effective in generating electricity.

On a bright sunny day the installation, which cost £166,500, is capable of generating up to 50kW of electricity, which is fed directly into the hospital’s own electricity system, helping to reduce day-to-day running costs and reducing the hospital’s carbon footprint.

John Parrott, who managed the installation for Derbyshire Community Health Services’ estates department, 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 short winter days and overcast skies but are still producing a considerable amount of electricity for the hospital.

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

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 per annum.

John added: “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.”

Health bosses are monitoring the amount of electricity and cash generated by the panels to see if they could use similar set ups at other sites.