The Hospital Energy Project
The Hospital Energy Project is costing £14.8 million and is expected to take 18 months to complete. The main contractors are Vital Energi. At the JR the project involves replacing four ageing boilers with a new high efficiency boiler. This will produce enough heat to meet existing and growing future demands. It will function as a combined heat and power (CHP) system with spare heat being transferred to the Churchill.
At the Churchill, three ageing boilers will be replaced with two modern ones. The hospital will normally draw part of its energy needs from the connection to the JR, but extra capacity will be brought on line when the supply from the JR is not enough.
At both hospitals, instead of circulating hot water to meet heating demands the new systems will circulate steam and low-temperature water. Using steam means the system will be more flexible and will be able to deliver heat where it is needed. Modern heating controls will also raise the efficiency of the system. The new systems will be more reliable and cheaper to maintain that the old ones, some parts of which are over 40 years old. Also at both hospitals there is a programme to replace over 7,000 light fittings with new low energy fittings.
The energy systems at both hospitals will be centrally controlled from the JR, but each hospital can control its own system independently if necessary. The Building Management Systems will also be extensively upgraded (this is like adjusting the thermostatic radiator settings in your home when you need more or less heat in any particular room).
The heat link between the two hospitals is of course the heat pipe: two insulated pipes laid underground to carry hot water from the JR to the Churchill and cool water back again. The pipes are supplied by Danish specialist district heating company Isoplus Fjernvarmeteknik A/S. The Trust is taking the opportunity to link the two sites with a high-voltage power cable to support the centralised control systems, and a fibre-optic data cable to improve the resilience of IT systems shared between the two sites.
What will all this achieve? The current cost of electricity, gas and oil at the two hospitals is £4.3m a year, resulting in carbon emissions of more than 30,000 tonnes a year. When it’s finished, the Energy Project will deliver a 45% reduction in energy costs (saving £1.9m on present costs) and a 38% reduction (about 11,400 tonnes) in annual carbon emissions. The new system will be much more reliable, cost much less to maintain, and be (in the buzz-word of the moment) much more resilient – which means able to withstand unforseen problems without breaking down. It will also mean less reliance on the national grid, which is an important consideration as demand on the grid over the winter months is very close to capacity and will stay that way for several more years. And as I explain later in the section on how the project is financed (not yet available), the Trust gets all this at a known annual cost for 25 years.