England to get first solar powered ambulances

Solar panels fitted to roofs of ambulances in Yorkshire will remove need for paramedics to leave engine idling.

The first solar-powered ambulances will be introduced in England from November as part of a Government initiative to reduce the impact of exhaust fumes on the environment.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust has been awarded a £166,000 grant to install solar panels on 175 of its vehicles to power their electrical systems prevent their batteries going flat when stationary.

Currently paramedics are forced to keep the vehicles’ diesel engines running at all times, despite the additional exhaust emissions, to avoid the risk of a flat battery which could put lives at serious risk.

The service said the introduction of the panels would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 720kg per vehicle per year, and nitrogen oxide emissions by 17kg.

If successful, the trial could be replicated by ambulance services across the country, with many councils struggling to meet clean air targets imposed by the European Union.

The ambulance project in Yorkshire was one of 21 local schemes to be awarded a grant from a £5 million government “clean vehicle technology” funding package on Monday.

Eleven bids were accepted from around England for to install pollution-reducing Selective Catalytic Reduction technology, including a grant of £500,000 for 400 buses and one fire engine in London.

Other successful projects included four bids for Thermal Management Technology, which lowers nitrogen oxide emissions, and three schemes to install hybrid systems on vans and buses which store energy produced during braking to power on-board systems and support the engine during acceleration.

In total the funding will support the introduction of low-emission technology on 1,080 vehicles including buses, taxis, vans, fire engines, coaches and ambulances across Britain by the end of this financial year.

The government has previously made funding available for local authorities to fit green technology to their bus fleets, but not to other types of public service vehicles.

Baroness Kramer, the Transport Minister, said: “The £5 million Clean Vehicle Technology Fund means councils can now lead the way on introducing greener vehicles on their local streets.

“All the schemes will lower emissions in busy towns and cities. The funding we are providing will result in real public health benefits while supporting skilled jobs and economic growth in the environmental technologies industries.”

Alexis Keech, Environmental and Sustainability Manager for Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this funding…We are looking to start a roll-out to fit the solar panels on our frontline RRVs from November 2014.”