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Why Battery Energy Storage is Key to Delivering a Net Zero NHS





The NHS has set one of the most ambitious net zero target pathways in the public sector, with the stated aim of becoming the world’s first net zero national health service. On July 1st 2022, this became embedded in NHS legislation with the Health and Care Act 2022. While it is a laudable ambition, and a necessary one, it will present individual NHS Trusts with a significant challenge. This comes at a time when the NHS is already facing extensive budgetary difficulties, meaning that investment in achieving net zero can be easily overlooked or delayed in favour of more pressing matters. However, with the right choices of equipment, energy management and advice, NHS Trusts can progress their net zero aspirations while also addressing rising energy costs and freeing up vital finances. 

What has the NHS Committed to?

The NHS Net Zero Expert Panel was formed to review over 600 pieces of submitted evidence and to conduct extensive analysis and modelling regarding what a net zero NHS would look like. The scale of the task is daunting in the extreme: the NHS is the UK’s largest employer, with over 1,375,000 staff as of May 2022. It accounts for 7% of the UK economy, and around 4% of total carbon emissions.  

Nevertheless, two pathways were devised to lay out how decarbonising the NHS could be achieved. The NHS Carbon Footprint, which accounts for the emissions the organisation directly controls (Scope 1 and Scope 2) intends to achieve net zero by 2040, with a marker post target of an 80% reduction sometime between 2028 and 2032. The wider NHS Carbon Footprint Plus target, which also incorporates emissions outside the NHS’s direct influence (Scope 3), will look to achieve net zero by 2045, with an 80% reduction delivered sometime between 2036 and 2039. 

Why Will Battery Storage Play a Key Role?

Battery energy storage will play a pivotal role in the energy transition as a whole, helping to bridge the difficult period as the UK shifts from a fossil fuel-based generation mix to one that relies primarily on renewable energy. For individual businesses and organisation, a battery energy storage system can become the cornerstone of an overhauled, more intelligent energy management strategy.

For the NHS, there is another vital role that battery storage can play. More so than any other sector, reliable emergency and backup power is absolutely critical in healthcare. Every hospital will already have UPS and backup generation in place, sufficient enough as to make absolutely sure that critical care is not impacted in the event of power disruption.

UPS has been around for decades now, and for the majority of users tends to sit, largely overlooked, until it called upon to protect infrastructure in the event that grid supply is disrupted. However, as energy costs rise and the need to decarbonise increases, your UPS could be actively undermining those objectives when not actively in use. That is to say, the vast majority of the time.

A typical, 1MW UPS system, using traditional lead acid batteries, consumes around £200,000 in excess electricity every year. For large hospitals, that figure will typically be significantly higher. In contrast, a lithium-ion, BESS UPS uses around 95% less electricity, dramatically reducing carbon emissions and costs while providing the same level of instantaneous emergency power protection. Indeed, the site-wide nature of a BESS means that it protects all energy infrastructure in the event of disruption, not just specific equipment.

At the same time, a BESS can be used to support other energy management priorities when not being used to provide emergency power. This can range from storing on-site generation to improve the return on investment from technologies such as solar PV or wind, or to buffer high-demand

technologies like rapid EV charging to reduce strain on a site’s grid connection. A range of available grid service contracts also means that a BESS can actively generate new sources of revenue by engaging with the mechanics used by National Grid to balance supply and demand on the grid in real time.

Currently, Powerstar’s technology is the only UK BESS system that is fully compliant with NHS procurement requirements when it comes to using a BESS to provide sitewide UPS protection. Our technology has already been installed in multiple hospitals, and demonstrated its ability to protect customers and keep vital equipment online in the event of a power disruption.

Find out more about Powerstar’s battery energy storage systems here

Battery Storage

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