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Businesses Lack Credit Access For Green Schemes

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

The lack of credit to finance energy-efficiency schemes is hamstringing potential green moves by British businesses, a report has warned

British businesses are struggling to find suitable credit lines and loans from banks and financial institutions, in order to fund their energy efficiency investments.

So said a new report from the Energy Efficiency Financing Scheme, created by the Carbon Trust and Siemens.

And in a separate announcement, the Carbon Trust also launched an online tool to help businesses cut down on their energy bills.

Lack Of Loans

The report examining the state of loans for green investments was formulated after examining the credit profiles of 780,000 UK employers. It apparently documented the number of companies in each major British town and city that are likely to face difficulties raising bank loans for green equipment investments.

For example in England it found that around 400,000 companies (38 percent of employers) are expected to find it difficult to raise bank loans to invest in energy efficiency that would save energy costs and could also increase productivity.

And it seems that the principle reason for businesses struggling to gain access to financing is their poor credit profile.

“Our analysis shows that there is a huge market potential for energy-efficient equipment investment over the next three years, amounting to almost £9bn across the country (e.g. £768m in London, £798m in North East, £580m in South West),” said Myles McCarthy, MD at Carbon Trust Implementation Services. “The large number of inquiries in the Energy Efficiency Financing Scheme in the first few months confirms the significant appetite from business for investment in this area.”

Last April both Siemens and the Carbon Trust created the £550m Energy Efficiency Financing Scheme to help provide British businesses will access for green financing. Essentially, businesses can apply for green equipment finance from Carbon Trust and Siemens, so they can invest in cost effective energy efficiency equipment and other low carbon technologies, such as new efficient lighting and biomass heating.

“In the current credit squeeze, however, a major problem for firms has been access to affordable finance to enable business to make those green investments,” said McCarthy. “That is why we have put in place a major new financing facility that makes finance more accessible and affordable for companies. The new facility – with finance provided by Siemens – matches monthly payments to real monthly energy cost savings, which means that in many cases firms are cash neutral or cash positive from day one. These investments allow organisations to gain access to new equipment that is more productive, reduces waste and lowers energy costs.”

Online Tool

Meanwhile the Carbon Trust has also recently launched an online tool designed to help businesses cut down on their energy bills.

The Carbon Trust warned that employees can potentially save British businesses and public bodies £500m and two million tonnes of CO2 – equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of all the households in Birmingham – thanks to its newly launched online office tool called ‘Carbon Trust Empower’.

The tool is designed to engage staff in cutting their energy use, as well as reducing their paper waste and travel.

Carbon Trust Empower claimed it has the potential to save a typical small business over 15 percent of their energy bill or more than £6,000 per year – equivalent to powering 3.5km of street lights for a year. Larger businesses that base their approach on this tool could save £150,000 and over 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, important carbon savings in these days of CRC legalisation.

It said that Whitbread and Oxford City Council had already signed their staff up to use the online tool.

The tool essentially enables staff to make practical commitments through an interactive animated tour of a typical workplace. Staff are able to explore energy saving opportunities throughout their office – starting by considering how they arrive for work, with options to join a company carpool or travel by public transport, before moving on to their desk, where they can commit to switch off their PC when not in use, print double-sided, and teleconference rather than travel.

Energy Saving Tips

“Companies often struggle to harness the huge energy savings that an effectively engaged workforce can help deliver,” said Richard Rugg, Director of Carbon Trust Programmes. “Part of the problem employers face is making actions practical, fun and sustained. By creating a virtual tour entirely from an employee’s viewpoint, every aspect of Empower has been designed with the end-user in mind.”

“Employees are a critical ally in cutting energy waste,” he added. “Get them onboard and reap the rewards in lower bills and reduced carbon emissions.”

The Carbon Trust also issued some “top tips” for office energy efficiency:

  1. Turn off your PC and monitor in the evening could save £39/yr per person
  2. Keep blinds open and turn off lights when there is enough daylight, or when areas are unoccupied could save more than £10/yr per person
  3. Accept a slightly (1°C) reduced temperature in the workplace could save over £4/yr per person
  4. Use the phone or video conferencing to avoid four car journeys could save £150/yr
  5. Reduce paper use by only printing when needed, and printing double sided could save £20/yr each per person