Three health boards will receive more than £10m in Welsh Government funding this year and next, to install new solar energy measures and help them improve energy efficiency across their estates, resulting in carbon and financial savings.
This investment builds on £2m provided last year, as part of a larger £17m programme.
The funding – repayable on an Invest to Save basis – will support energy projects for Swansea University Health Board, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and the Hywel Dda University Health Board.
The funding includes £2m in Covid recovery funds, earmarked for an ambitious 4MW solar farm project for SBUHB, which will help to power Morriston Hospital in Swansea.
Combined with an ongoing £7.7m Re:fit programme, the solar farm will save the health board more than £1.6m per year on energy bills.
Subject to planning permission, the proposed solar farm will be situated at Brynwhillach Farm and linked to Morriston Hospital by a 3km long private wire.
The decision to grant the funds was announced Wednesday, December 2, by the Minister for Health and Social Service; the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs and the Minister for Finance and Trefnydd.
The energy projects to be backed by the funding are:
Swansea Bay University Health Board
- More than £5.7m for 2020-21, as part of a larger £7.7m programme. The Welsh Government funded the first phase of the project with £2m in 2019/20, allowing the health board to complete energy efficiency measures, including upgrades to LED lighting which are already generating savings.
- To supplement the £2m in Covid recovery funds, a further £3.8m will allow the health board to complete the solar farm by the end of 2022.
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
- A further £600k, will support the health board, to expand work to improve energy efficiency across its estate. This will be in addition to £1.4m of funding agreed earlier this year.
Hywel Dda University Health Board
- £1.75m to allow the Health Board to install solar panels on buildings across its estate, as well as other energy efficiency measures, with £250k provided this year and, £1.5m provided next year.
Each of the health boards has worked with the Welsh Government Energy Service – which provides advice and support on energy to communities and public bodies – to identify opportunities to improve their energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy across their estates.
Vaughan Gething, the Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “Our NHS has been at the forefront of Wales’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the importance of the sustainability and strength of the services provided by our hospitals cannot be over-stated.
“Wherever possible, we want to help our health boards to see where savings can be made, whilst at the same time supporting them to maintain their vital services. Measures such as these which will help our hospitals to lessen their energy use are hugely important and I am pleased my fellow Ministers and I have been able to announce these funds today.”
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “As we look towards making Wales a carbon-neutral nation, we want to do everything we can to support public bodies, such as health boards, to minimise their carbon output through efficiency measures and to use renewable options wherever possible.
“I would like to thank each of the health boards for the work they have already undertaken in this respect; and would especially like to thank Swansea Bay University Health Board for their ambition, as they work towards creating a new solar farm, which will help power Morriston Hospital.”
Rebecca Evans, the Minister for Finance and Trefnydd, said: “We are determined to keep Wales moving forward and will continue to be guided by our values as we build a recovery together. This investment is an important part of our £320m Covid reconstruction package which is dedicated to supporting jobs and protecting the future of our public services and our planet.”
Emma Wollett, Chair of Swansea Bay University Health Board, said: “Our health board takes seriously our responsibilities to future generations by reducing our environmental impact and in particular cutting our carbon footprint.
“I’m especially delighted to see the hard work and commitment of our dedicated estates staff being rewarded in being the first health board in Wales to go green in such a pioneering yet practical way.
“Cutting our carbon footprint and cutting costs is a win-win for the health board, our patients and taxpayers.”
(Lead image: Pixabay on Pexels.com)