Feature

Grants available for renewable energy systems at commercial premises

Low Carbon Workspaces (LCW) is offering grants of up to £5,000 to help small and medium sized businesses in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Milton Keynes, and Northamptonshire subsidise the cost of projects that reduce commercial energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Green workspaces

Grants between £1,000 and £5,000 are available to help fund up to a third of the cost of systems including solar PV, biomass boilers, solar thermal, small-wind turbines, and wood fuel heaters. Projects funded include equipment upgrades, waste reduction machinery, and of course renewable energy systems. The programme has already awarded over 30 grants for renewable energy projects, with a sharp increase in applications for solar being seen in 2020/21. Solar PV projects are now the second most popular across the scheme, with 10% of applications being for this intervention (up from 0.6%) A further increase has been seen during the last month, with 50% of awarded grants in Berkshire having been for solar PV arrays.

LCW is keen to support further renewable energy interventions and is pleased with the increased interest in these applications. Projects which will result in a reduction of waste to landfill and renewable energy generation would be strong candidates for LCW grant assistance. Biogas from food waste, wood waste to fuel, and on-site energy generation are all projects that could qualify for grant funding. The team are always looking to support new and innovative interventions, and would be happy to discuss how modern, emerging energy solutions can be assisted.

A dedicated Project Officer will guide businesses through the application process, advising them on how to tackle energy consumption, providing support to businesses struggling to take their first step towards sustainable practices. The team help appraise projects and offer a green diagnostic to identify additional energy efficiency upgrades and how the scheme may be able to offer funding.

To apply, businesses need to submit; (1) A quotation for each measure undertaken as part of the project and details/photos of existing installations (e.g. current gas boiler, or roof space where solar PVs are to be installed). Projects under £25,000 only require one quote; (2) 12 months’ energy bills relevant to the project (e.g. gas bills for heating and electricity bills for solar PV) and (3) Completed Application Form

Suppliers of low carbon technologies are routinely invited to work more closely with the scheme to generate and secure business and may be listed on the supplier directory, free of charge. This can encourage businesses which may be unsure about who can help them implement their project chose a local supplier. Promotional material can be provided to suppliers which may further encourage SMEs to install renewable energy systems.

To introduce a potential applicant, they can be directed via email or phone, and the Low Carbon Workspaces team will walk them through the application process. Alternatively, a supplier may provide the team with the applicant’s contact details to get in touch to discuss their project with them directly. Once an applicant is referred there is no additional work for suppliers to undertake, projects are installed and paid for as usual, with grants paid to the customer as a reimbursement following payment for works. Approval must be granted prior to works being carried out and paid for. Grants typically take one to two weeks to be approved, following initial contact.

Programme Manager Daniel Cope says: ‘Businesses that are on the cusp of installing renewable energy systems, wishing to discuss sustainable-best-practice, or even hoping to be inspired on where to begin, should get in touch. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognise that many may struggle to carry out energy-generation projects at their businesses, despite ever-increasing energy rates. That’s why we couldn’t be happier to bring this scheme to the diverse mix of businesses to help reduce this burden and build a more sustainable future.’

With many companies now implementing plans towards net zero, installations of renewable energy systems will become more important than ever. A Low Carbon Workspaces grant can help to cut the initial costs of this, and significantly reduce the return-on-investment period.

Since 2017, the Low Carbon Workspaces programme has assisted over 500 SMEs by awarding a total of over £1.7 million in grant funding, saving nearly 2,500 tonnes of CO2e annually. Businesses can check their eligibility for a grant and identify suitable projects where suppliers can also add themselves to the directory

The Low Carbon Workspaces funding comes via the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is delivered by Ngage Solutions in partnership with Local Enterprises and Growth Hubs in the areas covered by the scheme.