Solar power sparks an electrical future for Milton Keynes University Hospital

The issue

Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH) opened in 1984 and most of the estate is now over 35 years old. In the oldest parts much of the roofing was coming towards the end of its manufacture life leading to water seeping into parts of the hospital.

The outdated materials were not energy efficient resulting in buildings losing heat in the winter and becoming too hot in the summer. This adversely affected staff and patients, led to high energy costs for the Trust and had a negative impact on the environment.

The solution

The recent introduction of an entirely green electricity supply, meant this was the perfect timing for the hospital to re-think its energy and infrastructure strategy, ensuring they are able to sustainably meet the rising demand of the growing local population.

The hospital has a flat roofing structure which meant photovoltaics (PV) – or solar electricity panels – could be fitted to generate significant energy on-site. An investment of £2.75m was used for new roofing and installation of solar PV.

The Trust used this opportunity to improve the roof insulation, enabling them to better optimise energy use, reduce costs and carbon emissions.

To undertake a key piece of work, one ward had to be temporarily moved for four weeks. However, the hospital used this as an opportunity to undertake a refurbishment of the area to improve the environment for patients and staff and make it more energy efficient, including introducing LED lighting.

The impact

Currently (August 2021), 2,586 solar panels have been installed, producing 853MWh (megawatt hours per year) which is equivalent to powering over 200 average homes for a year, or around 8% of the Trust’s total electricity requirement. Based of energy prices as of the end of August 2021, it is estimated the Trust has saved just over £18,000 already and expects to save 181tCO2e by the end of this year.

As well as the cost and carbon savings, the new roofing has made for a more comfortable environment for both staff and patients. A staff member said: “Before the roofing upgrade and installation of solar panels, this area would fluctuate in temperature – at times too hot and others too cold. The new roofs have made an incredibly positive difference to both staff and patients and it’s even better to know that we are helping the environment.”

Tony Marsh, Estates Services Manager at Milton Keynes University Hospital, said: “There is a lot of support for sustainable projects and a growing enthusiasm from executive teams for green initiatives so don’t be afraid to start the process and get the ball rolling.”

Over to you!

The Trust has approved a business case to re-roof and install around 900 more solar panels. Combined with the existing panels this will generate more than 1.5GWh every year, 15% of the total electricity that the hospital uses, and save the Trust over £225,000 a year in energy bills per year.

Find out more about Milton Keynes University Hospital’s Green Plan