Owners and operators of large factories and offices are increasingly investing in back-up, or emergency diesel generators in order to be sure that they can continue to operate when the National Grid fails. Many are also seeing the Grid’s need to supplement its capacity by recruiting these same generators as a means of adding extra cover when demand is extreme Now, it seems, there is pressure mounting on the Grid not to use some of the country’s largest emergency generators, those in hospitals, thereby adding to the need for privately owned generators to join the scheme.
As reported in the Daily Telegraph recently, the National Grid’s drive for hospitals to help keep the UK’s lights on by using their back-up diesel generators is “highly questionable” according to think-tank Policy Exchange because it will cause air pollution right in the vicinity of patients.
The UK National Grid is encouraging NHS sites, amongst many others, to sign up for schemes where they will be paid to routinely use their back-up generators for electricity production, not just in the event of an emergency power cut.
National Grid argues that making greater use of these existing generators represents a cost-effective way of helping to meet peak UK power demand as the country builds more intermittent wind and solar plants instead of building new oil, gas, coal and nuclear power plants that would be idle when demand for power was low.
National Grid has been actively recruiting hospitals and other organisations to make back-up generators available at peak times and avoid blackouts but Richard Howard, Policy Exchange’s head of energy and environment has gone on record saying “Whilst this is desirable from a security of supply point of view, it is highly questionable from an air quality point of view – particularly since hospitals are typically located in urban locations close to some of the most sensitive receptors”.
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