Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme “scratching the surface” of efficiency transformation required


Just 3.3% of government grant funding set up to accelerate the decarbonisation of public sector buildings has been awarded to schools and academies so far, according to new analysis by eLight a business that offers Light-as-a-Service (LaaS).

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) was created by the UK Government to provide £1 billion of grants to public sector applicants. eLight’s analysis of new data from the initiative reveals that of £932 million awarded to date, a total of just over £31m has been awarded to schools or academies.

eLight says the data demonstrates that PSDS funding is just “scratching the surface” of the energy efficiency transformation required in schools to meet the Net Zero ambitions of the education sector. The company is calling on the Government to work with the private sector to fund capital-free energy efficiency projects and rapidly accelerate the sector’s decarbonisation efforts.

According to the Government’s Energy white paper published in December, emissions from homes and from commercial and public sector buildings account for 19% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions, making buildings the second largest source of emissions after transport. Public sector buildings account for nine per cent of emissions from buildings.

Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said, “The aims of the PSDS are laudable but given the vast number of public sector buildings eligible for the funding, it was never going to do much more than scratch the surface of what is needed.

“The Government needs to wake up to the scale of the energy efficiency improvements needed and work with the private sector to fund and deliver them if it wants to make a serious dent in its Net Zero targets. Nearly half of the world’s energy is lost through wastage. Energy efficiency is the low-hanging fruit that could make a huge difference to our carbon footprint but most organisations are still miles away from where their buildings need to be in energy efficiency terms.

“We do a lot of work in schools upgrading their lighting to energy-efficient LED lighting. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made. But despite having completed over 1,000 projects and despite all these benefits, it’s often still a struggle to get schools to commit because they think it is too good to be true. If the Government helped to drive private sector funding as well as delivery of energy efficiency projects, they could deliver on a scale that makes PSDS pale into insignificance.”

According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.

eLight has completed over 1,000 energy improvement projects, saving over £16 million for clients. It designs and installs lighting and charges a fixed monthly service fee; selling the light to the end user. The system is then maintained by eLight, with the energy savings more than meeting the costs throughout the typical seven-year contract.

Regional comparison

Schools and academies in the East of England have seen the greatest value of PSDS grants, collectively receiving £6.8 million out of almost £85 million awarded in the region as a whole (8.1%).

At the lower end of the table, schools in the East Midlands and North East received less than 1% of grants awarded in their regions (0.8% and 0.3% respectively), and no schools or academies in Wales received a grant.

PSDS grants awarded by region

East of England £84,757,650 £6,831,587 8.1%
West Midlands £60,237,846 £6,626,033 11.0%
Yorkshire and the Humber £154,291,815 £6,124,100 4.0%
Greater London £143,233,317 £5,519,834 3.9%
South East £122,567,215 £2,586,934 2.1%
South West £109,473,503 £1,516,618 1.4%
North West £123,564,815 £1,188,583 1.0%
East Midlands £66,173,951 £552,720 0.8%
North East £57,460,577 £190,801 0.3%
Wales £1,073,683 £0 0.0%
Across regions £9,413,812 £0 0.0%
TOTAL £932,248,184 £31,137,210 3.3%


Schools interested in upgrading to energy efficient LED lighting should visit or email


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