In 2013 NHS Highland commissioned hwenergy to install seven heat cabins and four additional biomass systems as part of its ambitious carbon reduction plan. Each of the projects provides both an income and a reduction in cost of fuel. The savings are split between further energy saving measures and providing additional frontline care budgets to be spent on patient services.
In total NHS Highland aims to deliver 60% of its heating requirements using biomass, saving 9,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum, the equivalent of almost 1,800 homes each year.
The sites are a mixture of medical centres, hospitals and administrative blocks Payback of capital costs will typically be 5- 6 years for the smaller health centres and hospitals (or a minimum of 4-fold return over 20yrs) whilst the largest site has a projected payback in less than 3yrs.
“For an estate that has seen a rise in costs from £5.2M to £8.4M in the last 3 yrs, a large scale changeover to renewables is the only appropriate answer. Investing in biomass to this level generates large enough returns to provide a self-sustaining programme of change to renewables.
Our intention is that biomass will take on 60% of the heat load of NHS Highland, reducing carbon emissions by over 9000 tCO2e a year AND providing a net financial saving of at least £2M/yr and significantly more through time. Savings will mean more of the health monies in Highland can be spent on core frontline services.
With biomass we can start to be in control of our costs and can project ahead without any uncertainty over variables in oil prices. You can’t plan for fluctuations of the futures market but you can plan for something that is locally and readily available and for which there are no variables attached. Biomass works on every level.”
Gordon MacDonald, Energy and Sustainability Manager, NHS Highland
7 Biomass Heat Cabins , 4 additional biomass installations
The first step in the project was to conduct detailed site visits allowing the Design Team to review existing heating systems, work out the most cost-effective and reliable way of connecting with minimum disruption, determine best locations for equipment and identify the most suitable fuel.
7 sites were identified as being best suited to Biomass Heat Cabins while a further 4 would adapt existing buildings. For NHS Highland, the flexibility afforded by the Heat Cabins provided a distinct advantage given the likelihood of future changes in infrastructure. Each Heat Cabin is built off site and pre-equipped with boiler, fuel store and all necessary monitoring and interface equipment. It is configured to be essentially ‘plug and play’ meaning it can be moved, re-sited and re-configured as required. Some 200kW cabins have therefore been sited on hospitals with the knowledge they will be moved in 3 to 5 years’ time. The flexibility of the technology, and the structure of the RHI payments mean that such moves are without detriment.