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Green energy system powers CUH’s Cambridge Movement Surgical Hub





A specialist surgical hub at Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) is being powered by green energy.

A system of photovoltaic solar panels and heat pumps has been installed to cut carbon emissions at the Cambridge Movement Surgical Hub and provide domestic hot water, heating and cooling for the whole building.

A computer in the Cambridge Movement Surgical Hub. Picture: CUH
A computer in the Cambridge Movement Surgical Hub. Picture: CUH

There is also a focus on reducing single use plastics, a sophisticated restocking and ordering system that ensures nothing is waste and a pilot study on reusable surgical gowns to help CUH reduce its environmental impact.

CUH energy and sustainability manager, Richard Hales, said: “The hub’s heating and cooling system has been built with energy efficiency at its heart. “The system is innovative not just for its practical modularity and direct connection to approximately 80kW of roof-mounted clean solar energy, but also the way the whole system is managed sets it apart. During summertime when the sun is really shining we’re hoping that this whole unit will be running significantly off those panels.”

The hub was built to cut waiting lists for routine orthopaedic operations, such as knee and hip replacements, and create a new surgical centre of excellence.

Heat pumps, helping to power the Cambridge Movement Surgical Hub. Picture: CUH
Heat pumps, helping to power the Cambridge Movement Surgical Hub. Picture: CUH

The trust became the first in the country to use the integrated and locally-developed energy technology when it was installed in the Rosie Hospital in 2021 and used what it learned from that project to create the much more extensive system at the new surgical hub.

The energy from solar roof panels is combined with power from three large heat pump modules using unique computer-controlled electronics, all built locally.

The on-board electronics enable a balance between the heating and cooling to deliver efficiency and resilience in all weather conditions.

Entrance to Cambridge Movement Surgical Hub. Picture: CUH
Entrance to Cambridge Movement Surgical Hub. Picture: CUH

Fred Robinson, consultant orthopaedic surgeon and clinical lead for the hub, said: “I’m very keen that we are genuinely on a trajectory to net zero. I think we all feel that’s very important. Because, as we know, healthcare contributes around five per cent to the country’s carbon emissions, so the more we can reduce that, the better for us all.”

The CUH Action 50 Green Plan aims to reduce the carbon emissions that the trust has direct control over, with a target of halving carbon emissions by 2032 compared to a 2019-20 baseline. It aims to become a net-zero organisation by 2045, aided by measures to manage its buildings and services and saving resources by reusing, repairing and recycling wherever possible.

Richard Hales, Cambridge University Hospitals' energy and sustainability manager. Picture: CUH
Richard Hales, Cambridge University Hospitals' energy and sustainability manager. Picture: CUH

A state-of-the-art solar panel project is due to supply renewable energy to Addenbrooke's and the Rosie Hospitals in 2024. Situated at Babraham Park Park & Ride, it will reduce CUH’s electrical carbon footprint by about 400 tonnes per year.

The two new hospitals coming to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus - Cambridge Children’s Hospital and Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital – will be low carbon and electric powered facilities, designed to ensure maximum natural light and access to outdoor spaces.



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