According to new figures, half – 51% of the NHS trusts in the UK have installed electric vehicle charging infrastructure (EVCI) for patients, staff, and the wider community.
However, while this is a positive step towards a low-carbon future, a similar proportion – 53% – of trusts are either behind on decarbonisation targets, or do not have a clear set of emissions reduction goals in place.
The data was obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request issued to 173 NHS foundation trusts across the UK by power management lead, Eaton, with 142 trusts responding.
The results show that, while 51% already have EVCI on site, a further 43% either plan to install charging facilities within the next five years, or are in earl- stage planning around how best to integrate such capabilities.
In fact, just 6% of NHS trusts had no plans to introduce EVCI at the moment.
And this promising trend towards upgrading facilities to meet the public’s changing needs while reducing overall emissions in line with the NHS’s net-zero target, is positive news for consumers thinking about switching to an electric vehicle.
Marc Gaunt, segment lead for commercial buildings at Eaton, said: “Concerns around the UK’s lack of EV charging infrastructure have inhibited EV adoption due to range anxiety: the fear that an EV would have insufficient range to reach its destination and leave the driver stranded.
NHS trusts are adopting EVCI rapidly and offering staff, patients, and visitors a cleaner alternative to significantly lower their total carbon footprint
“Yet EVs and their underlying infrastructure are a vital piece of our route to a low-carbon future.
“EVs offer a cleaner mode of transport while smart charging infrastructure not only powers the future of travel, but embeds more flexibility into our energy grid to enable decarbonisation at a national level.”
The FOI revealed that 53% of NHS trusts are currently behind on their decarbonisation targets, or do not have clear emissions reduction targets in place.
Just two fifths (38%) are on track to meet their goals, while only 5% are tracking ahead at the moment.
However, when asked about the decarbonisation measures currently in place, the vast majority of NHS trusts reported that they have either already installed, or will be installing, lighting upgrades (93%), increased building control and automation (90%), and upgrades to insulation (69%) within their facilities over the next five years.
Only one responding NHS trust reported having no initiatives in place or planned at all.
When asked about the impact of EVCI on existing electrical infrastructure, 53% of trusts flagged that they would need greater electrical capacity, while two thirds (41%) said it may incur additional energy costs through greater peak demand.
Just a quarter (24%) recognise the potential to create new revenue streams from new charging facilities.
Vehicle to grid (V2G) technologies allow electric vehicles to store energy and discharge it back to the electricity grid when it is most needed, creating a bi-directional relationship that offers up new opportunities for healthcare estate and facilities managers.
The FOI revealed that very few NHS trusts (11%) are currently participating in selling energy back to the grid through energy storage technologies.
And one fifth (23%) plan to use energy storage to start selling energy back to the grid in the next five years, while 65% have no plans to do so.
Gaunt said: “Estates and facilities managers often consider building energy first when considering decarbonisation, but travel and transport is a vital consideration.
“NHS trusts are adopting EVCI rapidly and offering staff, patients, and visitors a cleaner alternative to significantly lower their total carbon footprint.
“Public and commercial buildings will need to follow suit.
“Every building – not just hospitals – will need to play its part if we are to meet the challenges presented by the rapid adoption of EVs and accelerate the UK’s path to a low-carbon future.”
One recent adopter of EVCI is the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
Earlier this month it installed 12 new charging points at hospitals in Fieldhead and Kendray.
They will be managed by Geniepoint and are part of ongoing energy efficiency measures at the trust, which have also included the delivery of the first fully-electric van, which is now in use by Barnsley porters.
Trust chairman, Angela Monaghan, said: “We recognise the scale of the challenge that the climate emergency presents to us all and the impact it will have on our service users, staff, and our local community and are committed to ensuring that sustainability is embedded throughout all aspects of our organisation so that we can minimise our carbon emissions, air pollution, and waste.”
And Aintree University Hospital now has 26 charging points in its car park.
Paul Fitzpatrick, director of estates and facilities at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are committed to becoming more sustainable and I’m pleased we can now provide an increase on the six charging points initially installed in our multi-storey car park.
“Aintree receives a high volume of traffic with thousands visiting the site each day and we have seen an increase in electric vehicle use so feel this move to better serve our service users and providers and environment makes perfect sense.”