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Solar panels gift to Seaton hospital by charity

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 12, 2012

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A community hospital will be able to reduce its carbon footprint after a charity raised £27,000 to fund solar panels.

The project, at Seaton, is the first energy scheme ever financed by a League of Friends of any of the 18 hospitals managed by the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust.

The array will significantly reduce the site's electrical consumption and carbon footprint, while the League and the Trust will evenly split any government incentives.

Bob Lowe, deputy estates manager, has led the project for the trust. He said: "To invest in an area that benefits the hospital not only in reduced costs but the environmental impact of the site on the local community is extremely forward-thinking.

"They have seen the bigger picture and everyone is a winner as the installation is expected to generate between 50 and 200kW of energy daily, all of which will be used on the hospital site."

Local company Rudge Renewables completed the installation ahead of a deadline that ensured the best tariff from the government.

The hospital's clear southern aspect in Scalwell Lane made it a prime candidate for a solar PV array, and the 80 individual panels will produce 20kW of electrical energy.

It is anticipated that 17,700 kWh (units) of electrical power will be generated each year, while the site's energy footprint will be cut by 2.5 tonnes of carbon.

There will also be financial benefits, with a projected £1,770 coming off the annual energy bill and repayments of £2,600 each year through the government feed-in tariff.

Mr Lowe said the cost of the scheme was expected to be recouped in seven to 10 years.

Dr Joe Pitt, chairman of the League of Friends, said: "When we came up with the idea of funding solar power for the hospital we were delighted with the very positive response from the trust.

"As a League we always want to help improve patient services at Seaton hospital and this sort of scheme should release funds currently spent on energy bills to instead go to direct patient care.

"We are also aware of our wider responsibility to help reduce the carbon footprint of the hospital. We feel it is a model of how the voluntary sector can help the NHS to deliver on those aims, and we hope this model can be copied elsewhere."

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