Powered up to reduce our carbon footprint
Behind the scenes in the plant rooms of both hospital sites, big improvements are taking place that will make a step-change reduction of the Trust’s carbon footprint. The principal components of the new installation will be two combined heat and power units (CHP) and a biomass boiler.
CHP is a great technology that uses a gas fuelled engine to produce electricity, and heat is collected from the hot exhaust gases of the engine to help heat the hospital. This is a far more efficient way of producing electricity than normal power stations, and reduces carbon dioxide emissions.
The biomass boiler burns wood to help fuel the heating system, and as it doesn’t use fossil fuel, it is not adding new carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. This is the feature of biomass – growing the wood takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and burning it puts it back without net gain.
The government wants to promote this concept, and as a result, our Trust will benefit from a government financial incentive. Patients and staff probably won’t see much, if any, of the works required to install the new equipment. In fact, work has already started to prepare for the installation of the first CHP, to be fitted at Cheltenham General at the end of March this year.The plans for Gloucestershire Royal will take longer, with most of the works being carried out in 2017.
We will not be using our own capital funds for this £9m project, and in fact nearly £1m of this is being funded directly by the Department of Health. The remainder is being funded through an energy performance contract between ourselves and Vital Energi, who will be guaranteeing the savings that the Trust expects to make.
Overall the project will update our Trust’s energy infrastructure, reduce the cost of energy consumption, and when complete will reduce our energy-related carbon footprint by a not insubstantial 7,300 tonnes every year.