More than 5000 solar panels spread across 11,500 square metres of rooftop at John Hunter Hospital have started harnessing the sun’s energy.

The installation represents major progress in the Hunter New England Local Health District’s ambitions of becoming carbon and waste neutral by 2030.

The solar panels have already saved over 145,950 kilograms in carbon dioxide emissions since October – or the equivalent of planting 4350 trees. 

The initiative is the result of a $3.2 million NSW Government investment aimed at dramatically reducing the carbon footprint of the hospital. 

Hunter New England Health Chief Executive Michael DiRienzo said the solar panel project was one of several initiatives aimed at reducing the hospital’s carbon footprint to contribute to an environmentally sustainable future. 

“The energy that these solar panels are expected to produce could power 500 homes each year, or reduce CO2 emissions equivalent to taking 885 cars off the road,” DiRienzo said. 

“We’ve already made a head-start on our targets, having introduced solar panels on 10 of our hospitals across the district, with the aim of installing across all our health facilities over the coming years. 

“Generating about 3238 megawatt hours per annum, the solar panels will help reduce the hospital’s annual energy consumption by 11 per cent, resulting in a 20-year carbon reduction equivalent to over 52,000 tonnes. 

Along with clean, renewable power, the other key tenets of Hunter New England Local Health District’s sustainability strategy, Sustainable Healthcare: Together Towards 2030 include: water recapture, reducing waste-to-landfill and transitioning fleet vehicles to hybrid and electric. 

Information source: Media release, Hunter New England Health