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Electric Adventures: NHS Cornwall

Posted January 02, 2020

Discover how the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is saving the equivalent of two nurses’ salaries per year by switching to an electric fleet, creating its own electricity with solar, and feeding surplus energy back into the National Grid. 

We challenged Chris Hines – founding member of Surfers Against Sewage and former Sustainability Director of the Eden Project – to find some shining examples of UK businesses who put sustainability at the heart of everything they do. 

A sustainable strategy

In the third and final episode of Electric Adventures: The Business Edition, Chris visited the inspiring Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. A customer of EDF Energy, the organisation is seeing real benefits from its sustainability initiatives.

Chris visited Trevellis House in Liskeard, which serves as a community hub for NHS staff providing mental health and dementia services to the Cornish community. The nurses provide vital services across a large area of Cornwall through domestic visits, so they need access to a reliable fleet of small cars.

In 2014, Neil Hudson, the Transport Manager for the Trust, was looking for the most environmentally friendly option for the miles that nurses have to travel during their shifts. Realising that a fully-electric fleet would make the greatest difference, the trust made the decision to invest in the first-generation Renault Zoe. A grant from the Department of Health enabled it to buy 15 electric vehicles (EVs) and install the charging infrastructure to support them.

The grant also helped the Trust install its own solar PV system at Trevellis House, which generates 40,000kWh of electricity per year. Around half of this power is used to charge the cars and satisfy energy demands on site - such as security, lighting, servers, fire alarms, CCTV and other building services. The remainder is exported to the National Grid, providing clean renewable energy for surrounding homes and businesses. The result? An annual saving of 20 tonnes of CO2.

Coupled with the electric fleet's lower operational costs, the trust's solar panels have saved money, delivering savings equivalent to the annual salaries of two nurses. Overall, the change has had huge community and environmental benefits, as well as helping the trust do more with limited resources.

The journey to electric

The entire project is a clear fit with one of the trust's core objectives: to act in an environmentally sustainable manner. In 2008 it was one of the first NHS organisations in the UK to commit to a carbon-reduction strategy. It set a target to reduce energy consumption by 15% by 2015 - and achieved this by some margin.

The trust's success with that target encouraged it to commit to a new, more ambitious strategy in 2016, which incorporates the NHS England carbon-reduction target of 28% by 2020. To support this, one of the main areas in which it wanted to further cut CO2 emissions was business travel.


Creating a healthy environment for work and living

For public health bodies in particular there's a further incentive to reduce emissions. According to Public Health England, air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, accounting for between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths each year(2). 

So the low-carbon choices that the trust is making are not only helping to reduce its carbon footprint, but also its role in creating the air pollution that impacts on human health.

Like all qualifying organisations, the trust can benefit from government grants available to accelerate the adoption of cleaner vehicles. The Workplace Charging Scheme, for example, enables any business, charity or public authority to claim a grant of up to £500 towards each charging point they install. Additionally, the plug-in grant subsidises the cost of electric cars by up to £3,500.

There's support, too, for organisations who want to offset the cost of their EV investments by generating revenue. For example, EDF Energy's end-to-end charging solutions are provided in partnership with EO, whose EO Cloud management software allows businesses to set pricing for customers using charging points.

The Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust's experience shows that even in rural areas, the lengthening range of EVs and the UK's rapidly expanding charging network make electric fleets a practical option - even for the delivery of vital response services. 

So there you have it, an organisation that has made an electric fleet work for them in rural Cornwall. Proving that the infrastructure is available whether your business is based in urban or rural areas.

EDF Energy’s role

We’re proud that the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust are one of our customers. We’re helping support the business by providing the infrastructure they need. Our large business energy solutions mean they can continue to offer a brilliant care service at no cost to the planet. 


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