New £185m UK funding boosts eco-friendly business upgrades

Geo Green Power has announced new net zero funding opportunities for UK business owners, focusing on promoting energy-efficient practices and the transition to cleaner energy sources.

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This initiative, supported by a £185 million government grant from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), aims to facilitate eco-friendly upgrades across various sectors.

The funding is part of the broader Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, targeting improvements such as high-efficiency insulation, heat pumps, and solar panels.

This move comes after an initial phase that saw 12 projects receive up to £6 million each for low carbon future planning, highlighting the government’s commitment to sustainable business practices in industries ranging from manufacturing and recycling to controlled environment horticulture and textile services. 

The fund is designed to reward businesses with projects and initiatives to help their operations run on clean energy by switching to renewables, replacing inefficient equipment and utilising electric solutions and hydrogen, amongst other green energy measures. 

Major impact on the environment

In the UK, commercial real estate continues to have a major impact on the environment, with buildings producing 23% of all carbon emissions, and 30% of these emissions are from non-domestic buildings, split 70:30 between commercial and public buildings.  

Yet only one in five (20%) of the nation’s small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) have invested in green energy solutions, including solar panels, battery storage, heat pumps and electric vehicle charging points. 

Renewable energy installations, such as solar PV, will reduce energy bills and running costs and often deliver a full return within 5 years. However, the initial cost can be a significant barrier for UK businesses transitioning to net zero. Nearly half (43%) of 1,000 UK-based SMEs surveyed stated implementation costs as the biggest barrier preventing them from becoming more environmentally friendly. 

To address this challenge, Geo Green Power has highlighted the grants currently available from local authorities across the UK.  

These grants are aimed at helping businesses to minimise their environmental footprint, reduce energy bills and progress towards achieving net zero goals. Available schemes and grants for 2024 include: 

Regional grants and funding 

The Net Zero Grant Programme (NZGP) is available for small to medium-sized businesses in the West Midlands, specifically those within or relocating to Coventry City Council, Birmingham City Council, or Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council areas. The programme grants up to £100K for energy and resource efficiency enhancements, including solar panels, to business premises. 

The Peak Innovation SME Innovation Grant – Targeted at small and medium-sized businesses in Derbyshire, this grant supports new-to-firm innovation, the adoption of productivity-enhancing, energy-efficient, and low-carbon technologies, as well as facilitating export initiation or growth. Grants range from £1,000 to £10,000. 

The Rushcliffe Accelerator – An initiative for businesses across Rushcliffe, Nottingham, this scheme runs until March 31, 2025. The scheme supports businesses district-wide, including grant funding to facilitate growth, increase efficiencies and build a sustainable business for the future. 

Net Zero Business Grants Programme – this scheme offers up to £30,000 in capital grants to install renewables and energy efficiency measures. Grants are available to Community Interest Companies and eligible small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) with a registered trading address within North Somerset. 

Chamber Low Carbon Grant (North West) – Eligible businesses in Lancashire (excluding Blackpool) can access fully funded support through various UK government-backed programmes. These initiatives cover environmental and energy-saving practices, the development of net zero targets, Carbon Reduction Plans, and guidance on adopting low-carbon technologies. 

The West Kent Green Business Grant Scheme – Local businesses in the Sevenoaks District aiming to enhance their environmental initiatives or initiate capital projects can benefit from this scheme. The programme offers financial assistance of up to 40% of the total project cost, providing grants ranging from £5,000 to £8,000 based on the nature of the business and project. Applications are open from January 23 to March 13. 

Net Zero Accelerator project – Being piloted in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the West Midlands Combined Authority, York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority, the £19m programme will help drive investment in multiple green projects across key sectors such as energy, housing and transport – essential to delivering on the UK’s climate targets. 

National grants and funding 

Smart Export Guarantee – A government scheme that pays businesses for any excess electricity they generate through renewable technologies like solar panels and export to the grid. The amount earned per kWh exported varies based on the tariff, but typically earns businesses around 5p. 

Productivity items and specifications – Farming Equipment and Technology Fund (FETF) 2024 – A wide-reaching fund for businesses in the agricultural sector to access grants of up to £50,000. Applications are measured based on their productivity benefit, environmental benefit , and level of adoption by the industry. The funding window is due to open imminently.  

Launching the guide, Geo Green Power, managing director, James Cunningham, said the funding landscape makes now the ideal time for businesses to transition to renewables: 

“Although installation costs are the lowest they have been and cost-saving benefits really stack up, the upfront cost of adopting renewable energy systems like solar or heat pumps can prevent UK businesses being able to access them.. Today, with the invaluable support of government and local authority funding, business owners have a unique opportunity to not only make their buildings more energy-efficient and greener but also do so at a fraction of the cost. 

“If the UK is to meet ambitious net zero targets and achieve the desired tripling of renewable energy by 2035, it needs the funding to support it. These grants represent a major milestone on our road to green energy and a significant opportunity for businesses to reap the rewards.”