British Ambulances Get Solar Power


Idling engines are the bane of fuel economy, and while many cities have banned regular people from leaving their engines running, some vehicles need the motor to be on at all times. Police cruisers, semi-trucks, and ambulances all carry so much extra equipment that the on-board batteries would drain in no time if the motor were shut off. There are now thankfully other, greener options though.

The Telegraph reports that the Yorkshire Ambulance Service in England was granted about $260,000 to equip 175 of its ambulances with rooftop solar panels that allow the engine to be turned off while the ambulances are stopped. The system is estimated to save 720 kg of CO2 emissions annually per vehicle, and will also mean paramedics aren’t inhaling cancer-causing diesel fumes while waiting for the next emergency to respond to. If successful, the program could extend to other ambulance companies across the region.

Anti-idling systems are being tried in a wide variety of medium and heavy-duty truck platforms as a way to reduce fuel consumption when the vehicle isn’t moving. Ambulances carry a variety of energy-intensive equipment that needs to be always on and ready to go (for instance a heart defibrillator), and while the Telegraph piece doesn’t mention it, a larger on-board battery is likely a part of the system as well.

This pilot program is part of a $8 million Clean Vehicle Technology initiative with the aim of reducing the environmental impact of many vehicle intensive services, like taxi cabs, ambulances, and police fleets. The British Transportation Ministry recently agreed to a massive greening of the government vehicle fleets to plug-in vehicles. That could see the Tesla Model S serving as a livery vehicle for heads of state.

Lead by example, as the saying goes.

Image: The BBC


Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.