Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Over £200m grants for public sector renewables and energy efficiency

A €265 million fund has been launched to fund European energy efficiency projects, derived from European Union funds and including €75 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The fund has a eventual target of €800 million.

In more good news for the cash-strapped sector, a further £10m has been announced for the UK only, via round two of the Revolving Green Fund.

The European Energy Efficiency Fund (EEEF) includes previously underspent EU money and is intended to leverage finance for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects which might not otherwise have a short enough return to attract investors. It is part of a new sustainable energy facility approved in December 2010 by the Council and Parliament.

Arrangements are now in place following a Memorandum of Understanding signed in March.

Britain reportedly insisted on the European fund being called “market-based", even though it only has €5 million coming from the private sector - Deutsche Bank - "because Deutsche Bank was selected as the Fund's investment manager," according to the EIB's president Philippe Maystadt.

"The idea was that monies left over from the European recovery fund at the start of the economic crisis could be used by local authorities for small-scale energy efficiency initiatives," said Belgian Socialist MEP Kathleen Van Brempt, the European Parliament's rapporteur on the dossier.

It is particularly intended to help projects in urban areas access both private and public sector further investment to help meet the EU 2020 goal of 20% energy savings and emission reductions on 1990 levels.

The EEEF is expected to provide "positive returns" within "four or five years" for these types of project, said Maystadt.

The EEEF will invest in energy saving, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, such as: energy saving measures in public and private buildings; investments in high efficient combined heat and power (CHP), including micro-cogeneration and district heating/cooling networks; investment in decentralised renewable energy sources, including micro-generation; clean urban transport; the modernisation of infrastructure, such as street lighting and smart grids, as well as investment in sustainable energies with a potential for innovation and growth.

Those eligible to apply include: public authorities (e.g. municipalities), preferably at local and regional level, and public or private companies, which are acting on behalf of those public authorities, such as local energy utilities, Energy Service Companies (ESCOs), district heating combined heat and power (CHP) companies or public transport providers.

This and other funding sources for low carbon technologies are available on the Manage Energy website.

Revolving Green Fund

The news is especially welcome following a warning given last week that unless the public sector played a better part in replacing energy capacity and improving energy efficiency the UK would struggle to maintain a sufficient energy supply by 2030.

The warning was given by Steve Egan, Deputy CEO of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) at a conference organised by The Energy Consortium (TEC), the body which helps the public sector with the tendering process for obtaining energy supply contracts.

Egan said that £10 million of further help was available from round two of the Revolving Green Fund.

“The Revolving Green Fund initiative is estimated to save nearly 9% by 2020, that’s a great return on investment for taxpayers," Egan said. "We’ve made an additional £10m available for Green Fund 2 and would like to see an oversubscription of applications by October,” he added.

Examples from round one of the funding include:
  • The University of East Anglia's biomass Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant at its Norwich campus.

  • Harper Adams University College's anaerobic digestion plant for renewable gas, using farm waste and food waste streams diverted from landfill.

  • A wind turbine installed at Lancaster University.

Giving a presentation on the installation of the wind turbine at the conference, Mark Swindlehurst and Mike Sheppard of Lancaster University joked about the planning process: “Sir Chris Bonnington is our Chancellor and we decided it was easier to climb Everest than plan a wind turbine”.

The conference also saw the launch of a Renewable Generation Guide for the public sector produced in conjunction with HEFCE and Inbuilt. TEC Members can access the documents for free via their website. Non-Members can obtain concessionary access by contacting Sarah James at s.james@bham.ac.uk or calling her on 0121 483 1963.

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