Vital Energi has started installation of solar panels that will power New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton. Image: Vital Energi.

Vital Energi has started the installation of over 15,000 solar panels at the New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton.

The installation will be finished by October, and will power the hospital for three quarters of the year, or around 288 days.

The project is part of a multi-million-pound investment provided by Salix Finance, a government-funded body, and will permit the Trust to save around £15-20 million over the next 20 years.

Salix Finance provided the Trust with nearly £10 million in 2021, and recently received a further £33 million to carry out green energy works as part of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

Work has also begun with the underground cabling, which will connect the solar farm with the hospital and will take about four months to be completed.

The new solar farm will power the facilities latest energy efficiency improvements, including heat pumps – which are currently being installed – pipework insulation, led lighting and steam trap replacements.

“We’re working really hard to meet the Trust’s and the NHS’s target to reach net zero carbon by 2040 and this investment is a huge boost to help us achieve that,” Stew Watson, director of estates development at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, said.

“Our primary focus as a Trust 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.”

Other hospitals turning to solar to power their facilities with renewable energy include Torbay Hospital in Devon, which has built a solar farm on a former landfill site and connected to the hospital via a underground cable.

Moreover, following a £4.2 million install last May means Yorkshire’s Castle Hill Hospital will be fully powered by solar PV.

Similarly, the Morriston Hospital in Swansea has now been powered by the 4MW Brynwhillach solar farm – which was installed by Vital Energi – for 50 hours since it started generating in November 2021.

The New Cross Hospital project had to overcome a series of difficulties starting with issues related with the methane venting system, which releases the gases from the waste material buried under the ground.

Rob Gray, project manager from the CEF, said: “Following surveys and an Environmental Agency inspection, the local authority undertook gas venting works and an additional drainage network was installed, to ensure water escaped correctly from the site to reduce standing water and flooding.”

Exclusion zones have been created nearby the location of the solar farm for the protection of badgers inhabiting in the vicinity of the project.