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Small Business Energy Grants and Subsidies

Becoming a more sustainable business offers significant advantages, but funding these initiatives is a major obstacle. Research from the British Business Bank reveals that only 11% of SMEs, roughly 700,000 businesses, have secured external financing for sustainability efforts, with 22% planning to seek such finance in the next five years.

Read on to find out more about the different types of funding available, and how CQuel can help you find and apply for the correct funding for your business.

What are energy grants and subsidies and how can they benefit your business?

Energy grants and subsidies are financial incentives provided by governments, non-profit organisations, or private entities designed to support businesses in implementing energy efficient practices and renewable energy projects. These incentives can come in various forms, including direct cash grants, tax rebates, low-interest loans, or even technical assistance, and are aimed at reducing the initial cost barrier of green initiatives.

Grants

An amount of money that is paid out which does not need to be repaid. Can be from the government or an institution.

Subsidies

A form of direct (i.e. cash payment) or indirect (i.e. tax breaks) financial support, usually given by the government.

Energy grants and subsidies are financial incentives provided by governments, non-profit organisations, or private entities designed to support businesses in implementing energy efficient practices and renewable energy projects. These incentives can come in various forms, including direct cash grants, tax rebates, low-interest loans, or even technical assistance, and are aimed at reducing the initial cost barrier of green initiatives.

Reducing up-front costs

Small businesses can significantly lower the upfront costs associated with purchasing and installing energy-efficient equipment or renewable energy systems, such as solar panels or energy-efficient lighting. This reduction in capital expenditure can make sustainable practices more accessible and financially viable for small businesses.

For example, the government's Boiler Upgrade Scheme is a great opportunity for small businesses aiming to reduce their environmental impact and operational costs. Under this scheme, eligible businesses can receive substantial financial support towards the adoption of renewable heating technologies. 

Grants are available for £7,500 towards an air source heat pump or a ground source heat pump (including water source heat pumps and those on shared ground loops), and £5,000 towards a biomass boiler. It's important to note that the grants for heat pumps were increased on 23 October 2023, providing an even greater incentive for businesses to make the switch. 

To qualify, the installed system must meet specific standards, including minimum efficiency levels, and have a maximum capacity of less than 45kWth.

Could you be eligible?

At CQuel, we can help you navigate the grants and funding landscape and capitalise on the opportunities available to your organisation. Speak with us today about how we can help you through the application process for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.Explore our current openings and become a part of Team CQuel.
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Cutting operational costs

By taking advantage of energy grants and subsidies, small businesses can reduce their operational costs over time. Energy efficient equipment typically consumes less power, leading to lower energy bills. Renewable energy projects can also provide a sustainable source of energy that, once installed, can offer long-term savings and protect the business from fluctuating energy prices.

Let’s take solar panels as an example: Here, the financial benefits of installing solar panels are twofold, with significant savings on electricity bills and potential earnings from excess energy production. A typical small business with a 3.5 kilowatt-peak solar panel system could see annual savings between £160 and £420 on electricity bills at current rates, according to the Energy Saving Trust. 

Furthermore, under the SEG, businesses could earn an additional average of £124 annually by exporting unused electricity back to the grid, with the exact figure depending on the tariff chosen.

The initial investment in solar panels might seem substantial, with the average cost of a system around £7,000. However, the payback period has become increasingly attractive, especially when considering grants or subsidies that can reduce upfront costs. 

Typically, the break-even point ranges from 15 to 20 years, depending on electricity usage patterns and the compensation rates for exported energy. With grants, this period can be significantly shortened, enhancing the overall return on investment and making solar panels a compelling option for reducing long-term operational expenses.

Broader environmental benefits and healthier living

Beyond contributing to environmental sustainability and promoting a healthier living and working environment, investing in green practices offers significant financial advantages. Buildings with BREEAM and WELL certifications not only show a commitment to sustainability and occupant well-being, but also command a notable premium in the market. 

Specifically, properties that achieve these green certifications can see an increase in their rental value, with a green premium of approximately 10%. This premium reflects not just the environmental and health benefits of such buildings, but also the growing demand for spaces that align with corporate sustainability goals.

What types of energy grants and subsidies are available for small businesses?

Broadly speaking, business grants and subsidies are available through the following means:

  • Government funding for green business
  • Green bank loans for small business
  • Alternative funding for sustainability projects and green businesses

Government funding for green business

In the UK, from the central government to regional bodies and local authorities, a range of funding programs are accessible for small enterprises.

A variety of government initiatives are available, offering loans, grants, or incentives to help small enterprises decrease their environmental impact. These programs often facilitate:

  • Improvements in energy efficiency, including modifications to production workflows.
  • Financial assistance for the initial investment in energy-saving equipment.
  • Efforts towards effective waste management and reduction.
  • Actions geared towards achieving sustainable growth.

Around £5 billion in funding is set aside to assist UK companies in alignment with the government's goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. This financial support is designated for businesses that are investing in sustainable technologies aimed at enhancing energy efficiency or cutting down carbon emissions.

Green bank loans for small business

Your regular banking partner may offer specialised loans for environmental projects. Here’s just a few on offer to small businesses:

Green SME Fund

HSBC UK unveiled a £500 million Green SME Fund in 2021 to aid small and medium-sized enterprises in their transition towards a greener economy. Available to businesses with an annual turnover below £25 million, the fund offers a 1% cashback on loans starting at £1,000, encouraging investments in eco-friendly operations.

Green Loans

NatWest provides Green Loans to assist companies in achieving their environmental goals. These loans cover a variety of green activities, with an eligibility list that is periodically updated. Businesses might finance projects like installing solar panels, acquiring electric vehicles, or implementing heat pumps.

Green Trade Loans

Barclays Bank provides green trade loans designed to facilitate buying goods and materials for eco-friendly initiatives. These loans are tailored to support a range of green objectives, from improving energy efficiency and developing renewable energy sources to promoting sustainable agriculture.

Clean Growth Financing Initiative

Lloyds Bank has established the Clean Growth Financing Initiative, offering reduced rates on loans for a wide array of eco-friendly investments. This initiative, developed in collaboration with expert sustainability advisors, supports projects ranging from minor incentives to major infrastructure developments.

How can CQuel find and secure green energy funding for your business?

If you’re struggling to navigate the UK’s complex and fragmented funding landscape, or simply stretched for time, CQuel’s grants and subsidies matching service can do the heavy lifting for you. 

We’ve built an ever-evolving database of 100+ grants and subsidies, covering government incentives, council schemes and philanthropic grants from across the UK. Once we’ve researched and understood your organisation’s aims and services, we’ll evaluate your likelihood of success against these funding sources. 

After we’ve reviewed these options with you, we’ll begin the application process, keeping you informed every step of the way. 

To find out more about how the service works and pricing, drop a line to chai@cquel.io.

FAQs

You’ve got questions,
we’ve got answers

Where can I find grants and subsidies for my business?

There’s no publicly available database that covers all UK grants and subsidies. As a first port of call, we’d recommend using the UK government’s Find a Grant search engine, as well as checking your local council’s website. Unfortunately, when it comes to funding that’s given out by private institutions, this will need to be researched on a case-by-case basis. 

Want help with the heavy lifting? Find out more about our Grants and Subsidies matching service by reaching out to chai@cquel.io.

What’s the likelihood that I’ll get grants and subsidies for my decarbonisation project?

It depends on what funding you’re eligible for. As part of our Grants and Subsidies matching service, we evaluate likelihood of success based on your organisation’s work and mission against the priorities of the grant funder, who is administering the fund, their eligibility terms, and the number of grants they give out in a funding cycle.

How much will grants and subsidies reduce the payback period of my decarbonisation project?

It depends on how much your solution costs and how much funding you’re able to secure. Want to get an accurate forecast on costs for your project? Our CQuel Outline service provides clarity on payback periods against all your recommended decarbonisation measures. Drop a line to chai@cquel.io to find out more.

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