Government pledges £110m for green firms

25th April 2012


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DECC and the business department (BIS) have made more than £110 million of support available for companies to develop green waste infrastructure and energy-efficient technologies

As it was confirmed the UK had slipped back into recession, energy secretary Ed Davey and business secretary Vince Cable announced details of how their departments would be investing millions of pounds to boost the green economy.

At the start of the third Clean Energy Ministerial, Davey launched a new energy entrepreneurs fund, which will provide £35 million to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) developing products to improve the energy-efficiency of buildings and generate low-carbon energy.

Under the three-year scheme, businesses will be able to apply for up to £1 million to design and demonstrate new technologies, such as low-energy lighting, efficient heating or solar panels. The initiative, which is funded through DECC’s buildings innovation programme, will focus initially on energy-efficiency, expanding at a later date to power generation.

“Part of the way that we're going to tackle climate change and get clean energy is through innovation, particularly with SMEs,” said Davey. “[The] fund … will help innovators and entrepreneurs develop and demonstrate low-carbon technologies. This is a practical way that we can make sure we get to the low-carbon economy.”

Davey also announced a £3 million fund to assess the viability of heat storage technologies that can be incorporated into domestic heating systems.

In a separate announcement, the business secretary revealed that BIS’s UK Green Investments (UKGI) initiative had allocated its first round of investments to support improvements in the country’s waste infrastructure. A precursor to the green investment bank, UKGI provides funds to financial groups to leverage private sector investments of equal value in the green economy.

Cable confirmed that it has allocated £50 million to asset management company Foresight Group and £30 million to investment firm Greensphere Capital LLP to generate investments in waste reprocessing, pre-treatment, recycling and energy-from-waste projects.

“These first investments are a landmark moment. They represent a great opportunity to unlock substantial commercial investment in green technologies and infrastructure,” said Cable.

“Investing directly now shows that we are not just sitting on our hands while we wait for the UK green investment bank to receive state aid approval.”

Waste industry body, the Environmental Services Association (ESA) welcomed the UKGI’s investment, but warned that the sector needed greater access to funding overall.

“This investment should help to bring forward some smaller-scale waste and recycling projects, however, it is larger-scale projects that will provide the bang for the buck that will make a real environmental difference and which urgently need green investment bank support,” said Matthew Farrow, ESA’s director of policy.

The news came as DECC geared up for the launch of a new website to help connect businesses looking for funding for low-carbon projects with financiers. The new site, lowcarbonfunding.org.uk, will launch on 26 April and will include details of both public and private funding programmes.

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