SCAS started trialling solar panels in January 2012 and from September 2012 started fitting them on all new RRVs. To date solar panels have been installed on 36 of the trust’s RRV and SCAS is currently in the process of fitting solar panels to a double-crewed ambulance to evaluate their use.
Daylight is converted into voltage by the two 34-watt solar panels with a separate C-Tec regulator located in the boot of the RRV to supply power to the secondary battery system that is used to charge the mobile data technology, medical equipment, blue flashing lights and radio.
SCAS Green Team Coordinator Brian Miller said, “South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust is taking the initiative to introduce solar panels to its Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs) to reduce fuel consumption, fuel and battery replacement costs, the trust’s carbon footprint and the need for RRVs to return to base and traditional shoreline systems to recharge vehicle batteries.”
The introduction of solar panels means that vehicles no longer need to standby with their engines running to recharge essential battery systems, or to return to base to recharge vehicle battery systems using static shoreline systems, which mean that the vehicles are unable to respond to emergencies whilst batteries are being charged.
The use of solar panels means that the trust’s fleet of RRVs can be fully mobile at all times to provide the best in mobile healthcare services to patients suffering life threatening injury or illness across the four counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire.
It is estimated that by using the solar technology the trust’s fuel consumption will be reduced by 11,232-litres annually and CO2 emissions reduced by 30.28t. The expected cost savings amount to almost £50,000 over the five-year life of the 36 vehicles.