Solar panels introduced to ambulance vehicles

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) has become the first ambulance service in the UK to fit solar panels to its rapid response vehicles (RRVs).

Following a nine-month trial that began in January 2012, 36 of the Trust’s RRVs have been installed with solar panels so far.

The panels are being used to charge the emergency vehicle’s secondary battery, which powers on-board equipment such as defibrillators, satellite navigation systems and communication devices.

The vehicles will no longer need to stand by with their engines running to recharge essential battery systems, which means the Trust can be fully mobile at all times.

The move will help reduce fuel consumption, fuel and battery costs, as well as significantly reduce the Trust’s carbon footprint.

Although it cost £34,560 to fit the vehicles with the panels, the service anticipates reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 30.28 tonnes and its fuel costs by more than £50,000 over the next five years.

SCAS green team co-ordinator, Brian Miller, said: ‘To put it in perspective, one tonne of carbon dioxide can fuel six double-decker buses.

‘Reducing the carbon footprint is a national NHS objective and we identified at an early stage the potential of solar power.’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 20 May 2013.

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