Eight firms get funding to crack SME energy efficiency


Eight firms bidding to unlock greater investment and engagement in energy efficiency within small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have secured further government funding.

SMEs account for 99.9 per cent of the UK’s 5.9m private businesses, according to the FSB, which means the UK cannot achieve net zero without SMEs also decarbonising.

Meanwhile, government has conservatively suggested that SME’s could save £500m per annum by implementing energy efficiency measures.

The challenge is engaging businesses with other priorities and competing demands for capital, current situation notwithstanding, and making it as easy and compelling as possible.

Beis is therefore funding eight projects that aim to deepen SME engagement in energy efficiency and put simple, often funded, solutions in front of them. Winning consortia from the Boosting Access for SMEs to Energy Efficiency (BASEE) competition, detailed below, will share £6m to take forward their solutions:

Digital Energy Efficiency Platform (DEEP): Environmental buildings consultancy arbnco says its platform gathers reliable data on energy usage and building performance, helping firms to benchmark and build business cases. Backed by a consortium including Centrica, sustainable investors Cyan Finance and Durham County Council, arbnco wants to run three DEEP pilots in central Scotland, in Bridgend and in the West Midlands.

BRE: REZEE: Focussing on Britain’s 11,000 residential care homes and their 400,000 residents, its online evaluation tool aims to:

  • enable SME care providers to identify the most effective ways to improve their buildings’ energy efficiency
  • identify finance sources needed for improvements
  • provide best practice guidance in procurement, ensuring upgrades are undertaken to the highest quality
  • aid co-ordination and agglomeration of projects, easing the path to efficiency upgrades

Considerate Hoteliers EE: Software developer Fluttr-app.com says energy accounts for most hotels’ operating costs. It claims 25 per cent savings are possible from the estimated 17,000 GWh consumption of Britain’s hotels. It details its BASEE proposals on the Fluttr-app.com website.

Element Energy: Consultancy Element Energy places data gathering from smart meters at its proposal’s core. User-specific outputs offered will include suggestions for tailored efficiency improvements, and benchmarked performance against peers. It says Drax and Octopus Energy are potential project partners.

EnergyPro: ESCO-in-a-box. “The aim of our BASEE Phase 2 project is to demonstrate that a local, trusted organisation can successfully deliver energy efficiency services to SMEs provided they are equipped with the right toolkit: standardised project development processes, vetted technology partners and contractors, guaranteed savings and suitable finance,” states EnergyPro. During 2020 to 2021, the consultancy will trial its energy-services-company-in-a-box concept as it creates a Community ESCO for Oxfordshire. It hopes to prove the concept across at least 12 SME projects and scale up for an intended national roll-out, demonstrating how community-based organisations can deliver energy efficiency to SMEs locally or regionally. Added benefits for SMEs and delivery organisations will be guaranteed savings and introduction to sources of appropriate finance. EnergyPro director, Steven Fawkes, has significant experience in this area, having led European development of the Investor Confidence Project.

Hoare Lea: Bundled technologies for the online marketplace. With pilot trials lined up in Exeter and Bristol, the Hoare Lea project aims to address the barriers faced by SMEs and landlords in securing energy efficiency in the non-domestic sector. Standardised contracts, specifications and processes to minimise ‘friction’ within the energy efficiency marketplace, are identified as key elements.  The project aims to create ‘compelling product bundles for both landlords and commercial tenants’.

Q-Energy: smart energy platform for SME customers. Consultancy Qbots says its Q-Energy services platform will use automation and data-driven AI to build an energy model of SME premises to provide bespoke recommendations. The project aims to trial a platform across 30 pilot sites, integrating functions including energy efficiency interventions and their costs, plus finance options. Partners lined up include Energy Systems Catapult, Bryt Energy, Leapfrog Finance and fintech provider Ask Inclusive Finance.

VRM Technology: Smarter Choices. Aims to provide end-to-end energy efficiency services to SMEs with at least £50k to spend. VRM is working with Joule Assets, Future Climate and Oxford Innovation. “Together, we will offer a holistic, quality guaranteed, end-to-end energy efficiency service: from assessment through to financing, installation and in-use performance monitoring,” states the firm.

See a snapshot here and full details here.

Related stories:

Firms land funding for SME energy efficiency and DSR

Beis seeks platform to help unlock £500m SME energy savings

Energy Institute: Policymakers should prioritise ‘poor child’ energy efficiency

Energy Institute urges retrofits and equipment upgrades to make quickest efficiency gains

Engineers tell government to pay for energy efficiency

Government should subsidise energy efficiency over renewables and give Esos teeth

National Grid boss: future of energy is demand not supply

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