Monday 25 September 2023
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£64 million fund to drill 64 boreholes and new windows at QMC land for carbon-free energy

New Queen’s Medical Centre heating and cooling system is expected to cut CO2 emissions by around 10,000 tonnes a year– the equivalent of taking more than 2,200 cars off the road.

The geothermal system draws and stores energy from 64 boreholes each up to 250m below ground, equivalent to the length of seven Nottingham trams.

Replacement of up to 18,000m2 of windows – the size of two football pitches – with double glazing, improving energy efficiency and the comfort of patients, visitors and staff.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) is partnering with E.ON to deliver a 15-year energy efficiency programme that will help NUH to deliver on its ambitious environmental targets and improve staff and patient comfort.

Work has begun on major works to renovate the energy systems and reduce emissions at the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) site in Nottingham, including installing a renewable geothermal heating and cooling system as well as new energy-saving windows and smarter building controls.

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At the heart of the initiative will be a new £15 million energy centre providing low carbon heating and cooling to the QMC.


Built and operated by E.ON, the new energy centre will house four high-efficiency heat pumps that extract heat from the air and will also draw from the natural warmth of the earth.

To do that, 64 boreholes descending up to 250 metres (the length of seven Nottingham trams end-to-end) under the ground will provide the hospital with a sustainable low-carbon energy source.

The project, costing a total of £64 million, is expected to cut QMC’s carbon emissions by 10,000 tonnes of CO2 or 30% a year initially, increasing to around 43% once the current gas-fired heating system is decommissioned.

It is the largest recipient of funding from Phase 3 of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, initiated by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and delivered by Salix Finance. The programme is being facilitated by the Carbon and Energy Fund (CEF) which manages complex energy infrastructure upgrades for the NHS.

Anthony May, Chief Executive of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “This partnership demonstrates our significant commitment to environmental sustainability and offers a creative solution to meeting our energy needs and tackling climate change, while at the same time improving patient and staff comfort by allowing us to better manage temperatures within our buildings. Innovative projects like these will play a hugely important role in helping us meet our ambitious goal of achieving a net zero carbon operation for heating and cooling system emissions by 2040.”

Chris Norbury, E.ON UK Chief Executive, said: “Tackling the environmental impact of heating, especially in densely populated areas, is key to meeting the UK’s net zero targets. Part of that urgent challenge is re-imagining how energy is provided to homes, businesses and cities to explore what can be done to take action and reduce carbon on a large scale.

“We’ve provided a source of heating and cooling to the QMC for many decades with an E.ON energy site in the grounds of the hospital. I’m proud Nottingham University Hospitals are trusting us to build on our successful relationship with this project, clearly demonstrating how working towards net zero can also have a direct benefit for the people who work, visit and stay at the hospital. We’ll be working alongside local companies to bring this to life and deliver a future-proofed energy system for Nottingham and beyond.”

NUH and E.ON are already working with Wilmott Dixon and Acorn Aluminium to replace around 12,000 single glazed windows on the 38-acre QMC campus, increasing energy efficiency by reducing heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer, as well as improving comfort for patients, visitors and staff.

A new building management system run by E.ON Control Solutions will improve control of the building and its equipment, optimising energy efficiency to improve sustainability and reduce energy costs.

The first phase of the energy centre development will install a 4MW heat pump with 2.88MW cooling capacity to support the QMC’s existing gas turbine and standby boilers.

Phase two will increase the heat pump solution to 8MW of heating capacity – the equivalent to the heat demand of almost 4,600 average UK homes – complemented by a further 5.8MW of new cooling capacity.

The innovative heat pump and borehole solution will cut the carbon emissions associated with heating and cooling by more than 40% and will help to improve local air quality by reducing nitrogen oxide emissions.

Ian Rodger, Salix Finance Director of Programmes, said: “This is an exciting time for Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust as it takes major steps to reduce its carbon emissions. It is an important project and Salix will work very closely with the Trust to support it in meeting its deadlines and major benchmarks during its decarbonisation journey. Not only will this have a significant impact for the environment but also for the community and everyone who uses trust facilities across its sites.”

Clive Nattrass, Carbon and Energy Fund CEO, said: “Replacing six miles of windows in a live hospital, recovering from Covid backlog, has made this project especially challenging. It has taken close partnership working between Salix, the Trust, E.ON and the CEF to keep this ambitious project on track, towards being an exemplar ‘whole site’ project for the whole NHS.”

How does it work?

The QMC’s new heat pumps, boreholes and heat recovery system work alongside the hospital’s existing combined heat and power plant, providing a more sustainable source of heating and cooling as well as a source of electricity to the hospital.

Illustration of how the heating and cooling system will work at QMC

Screenshot 2023 09 10 at 13.24.01

The heat pumps use electricity and can either generate heat from the outside air (similar to a fridge but in reverse) or they can take renewable heat from the earth through the 64 boreholes drilled beneath the hospital site. The heat pumps can also recycle waste heat from the hospital’s cooling systems. Excess heat can either be saved for future use in the thermal stores within the energy centre or pumped down into the boreholes for longer term storage. This process cuts carbon emissions and running costs by reducing demand for fossil fuels.


Improves patient and staff comfort through the thermal improvements to the building
Reduces energy waste by recycling heat that would otherwise be ejected into the air
Electrical systems reduce dependence on fossil fuels and cut carbon emissions
Increases security of supply while making best use of space in a congested city centre
The QMC currently runs off a gas turbine providing combined heat and power which E.ON has operated since 2001 and will be supplemented by the new renewable technology.

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