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New solar farm to save hospital up to £20m

From April a new solar farm will power Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital for around three quarters of the year.

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT) in partnership with City of Wolverhampton Council, has built the solar farm at a former landfill site the size of 22 football pitches, adjacent to Bentley Way, Wednesfield. 

The facility will power the entire hospital site with self-generated renewable energy for an estimated 288 days a year, saving the Trust around £15-20 million over the next 20 years – money which will be put back into frontline healthcare.

It will produce 6.9MWp of renewable energy to New Cross Hospital and will generate an estimated carbon saving of 1,583 tonnes of CO2e per annum.

Main contractor Vital Energi have installed over 15,000 solar panels on the 40-plus acre brownfield site.

When combined with existing green technologies, the new project will allow the Trust to move away from a reliance on the national grid and to reduce its exposure to rising electricity costs over the next two decades.

It also supports the Trust’s goal of reducing its carbon emissions by 25 % by 2025, and of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Stew Watson, Director of Estates Development at RWT, said: ‘This investment is a huge boost to help us achieve that.

‘Our primary focus is always on the patient and these works ensure the Trust saves money on future energy bills, which we can then subsequently invest across other healthcare services.’

Professor David Loughton CBE, Group Chief Executive at RWT, said: ‘As the largest employer in Wolverhampton, we take sustainability very seriously and are committed to continually working to reduce our carbon footprint.

‘We have taken a number of steps to reduce and better manage our energy consumption and operate in a sustainable manner.

‘One of these steps is to look at using renewable energy so we are very pleased the development will be opening soon and delighted at the way the partnerships have worked out.’

Ashley Malin, Managing Director at Vital Energi, added: ‘We’re delighted to have transformed a former coal mine and landfill site into this impressive solar farm, which is the largest single source of green energy on a hospital site within the UK.

‘The clean energy will power the air source heat pumps within the hospital, and significantly reduce the hospital’s carbon footprint.’

Work has also been completed on the underground cabling to connect the hospital to the solar farm.

RWT received around £15m in grant funding for the project, made up of contributions from the government’s Levelling-Up fund, the NHS and Salix Finance, a government-funded body.

The Trust also received a further £33m to carry out green energy works as part of the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

During the council’s climate change consultation, 82% of Wolverhampton residents said they would welcome solar farms in the city.

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