Government Pledges £30m For Green IT Projects

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Government assists two schemes aimed at increasing the use of renewable energy in the public sector

The government has announced two initiatives designed to assist the public sector and local communities to achieve savings through the implementation of renewable energy technologies.

The Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne has said that £10 million will be invested in a Local Energy Assessment Fund (Leaf), while another £20 million will be provided through the Salix Scheme, which provides low interest loans to schools, hospitals and other public sector buildings.

Green energy generation

Huhne said that the funding was “great news”, adding that it would “encourage energy efficiency in our schools, hospitals and universities” and “get green energy generation and energy efficiency into our communities”.

As part of the Leaf programme, local community groups such as parish councils and voluntary associations will be invited to apply for funding awards worth around £50,000 in two phases. The first round runs until 22 December with the second round taking place until 20 January next year.

“I want to make sure that local communities are at the heart of this energy revolution, and this funding will help make sure that can happen,” declared Climate Change Minister Greg Barker.

The programme will be managed by the Energy Saving Trust. A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) told Business Green that the funds could be used for small scale renewable energy technologies or feasibility studies to investigate the possibility of  larger projects.

Interest Free

The aim of the Salix loan scheme is to allow institutions to carry out energy efficiency projects and repay the loans through the savings in energy bills. The additional funding is expected to reduce public sector energy bills by up to £46 million a year and cut carbon emissions by 210,000 tonnes.

Public sector departments working on energy efficiency projects that can deliver a return on their investment within five years are invited to apply before the end of March next year.

According to Alastair Keir, chief executive of Salix Finance, the company which administers the loan scheme, the funding would allow them to offer interest-free loans which would provide “much needed assistance to the public sector, helping it reduce its carbon emissions and energy bills,” while allowing public sector organisations to “remove the barrier of having to find capital to pay for the energy efficiency measures at a time of tight budgets”.

Unpopular schemes

The potential savings offered by the scheme would be welcomed by the public sector, which has struggled to achieve savings following the government’s £3.6 billion IT spending cuts.

Other recent DECC initiatives have included plans to roll out smart meters across the UK by 2020, however this has been criticised by many, especially analyst firm Ovum, which has been critical of the hasty implementation of the project.

Businesses were heavily encouraged to sign up to the DECC’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) scheme, but it has proved unpopular with the majority of businesses that want to see it scrapped, and the first CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme league tables showed that a number of IT firms were struggling to meet targets.

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