Solar panels installed at Calderstones Hospital

Bill Wilkinson (right)  Head of Estates at Calderstones Hospital with Gareth Jones of Carbon Zero
Bill Wilkinson (right) Head of Estates at Calderstones Hospital with Gareth Jones of Carbon Zero

A PIONEERING Ribble Valley hospital is going green thanks to the installation of a major solar power system.

Calderstones Hospital, Whalley, is a leader in the field of health provision for people with learning disabilities and is now leading the way in the field of renewable energy.

The hospital, the first learning disability NHS Foundation Trust to be authorised, is about to go on-line after 112 solar panels were fitted on the roof of one of the hospital buildings. The project to install the panels, each 1.6ms by 0.9m, been carried out by North Wales-based renewable energy specialists Carbon Zero UK.

The energy generated by the new system will help power the hospital’s ground-source heating pumps as part of a comprehensive plan by the Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to reduce CO2 emissions. The hospital provides care for people with learning disabilities from across the North West.

The Trust’s Head of Estate, Bill Wilkinson, said: “We have done energy conservation work at the hospital already and a new building is being constructed which will be heated by ground-source pumps and we felt we should try to ensure the pumps were powered by a green technology rather than off the national grid.

“We chose solar power as it seemed the best option and it really is ideal for buildings which are south-facing and have a large roof area. What really made the difference for us was the Government’s new feed-in tariffs, which meant we would recoup the expense within seven years.

“We invited Carbon Zero to tender and chose them because they had experience of installing similar systems on large buildings such as Glyndwr University, Wrexham.

“The other advantages of solar power are that it is not intrusive in the way wind turbines can be and it is very low maintenance – basically it sits on your roof and gets on with the job.”

Gareth Jones, Managing Director of Carbon Zero UK, said: “We’re delighted to have been involved in such an important project for such a prestigious client. This is cutting edge technology that will reduce the building’s carbon footprint by nearly 12 tons a year and generate about 22,000 kW/h of electricity.”

The new solar power system could provide enough energy to save the hospital up to £2,000 a year and provide annual benefits in the region of £9,500 a year.”

Bill Wilkinson added: “This is part of our plan to reduce our carbon emissions by 10% by 2015. The energy provided by the solar power will be multiplied three or four times by the ground-source heat pumps.

“It also complements the other measures we’ve taken such as thermal insulation, gas boilers, low energy lighting and building management control systems and we see it as a very low impact solution and, with a guaranteed 25 years of service, one which has a long life.”