Oxfordshire consortium wins government contract to launch energy efficiency service for local businesses

In Oxford, our buildings are responsible for the largest proportion of our annual carbon emissions – as outlined in the Oxford’s Citizen’s Assembly on Climate Change in September 2019.

The buildings sector should adopt improved building standards, widespread retrofitting, and more domestic and non-domestic energy needs being met by sustainable sources.

The Low Carbon Hub is bringing an exciting new service to Oxfordshire, designed to help local enterprises in Oxfordshire to tackle this problem. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are often keen to undertake energy efficiency work, but struggle to find the time outside of their day-to-day activities and have concerns about upfront costs – this project aims to make things simple, and to remove financial risk with finance opportunities and guaranteed savings.

The activity in Oxfordshire forms part of a wider project, led by EnergyPro. EnergyPro believe that the best way to engage SMEs with energy efficiency work is through trusted, local support – equipping local community-based organisations with the knowledge and tools to deliver energy efficiency projects for SMEs, based on internationally established good practice. EnergyPro are working to develop this toolkit, or ‘operating system’, with the aim of rolling it out on a National scale.

Oxfordshire will be the pilot area, which is where the Low Carbon Hub come in – supporting delivery. This will involve the creation of a new company in Oxfordshire during 2020, a Community Energy Service Company (CESCO), hosted by the Low Carbon Hub, which will begin serving local SMEs immediately. This CESCO will:

  • Help businesses to identify areas where they could improve energy efficiency, and therefore cut their energy costs – led by the team at Oxford Brookes
  • Deliver these measures, using tried and tested installers (with financing options available for SMEs who do not have available capital)
  • Measure and verify the savings created by these measures.

If successful, EnergyPro ultimately plan to license this ‘operating system’ to community-based organisations in communities across the UK who can serve SMEs in their local area. This will create a national network of ‘one-stop-shops’, supporting SMEs with energy efficiency.

Project partners

EnergyPro are the lead partner on the project, developing the ‘operating system’ and acting as franchisor for this system.

This business model aims to prove that a local, trusted organisation can successfully deliver energy efficiency services to SMEs provided they are equipped with the right toolkit: standardised project development process, vetted technology partners and contractor, guaranteed savings and suitable finance.

Low Carbon Hub are working closely with EnergyPro, rolling out the business model in Oxfordshire as the first franchisee of the project.

To drastically reduce our carbon emissions, we must quickly address the high energy usage of our buildings – increasing energy efficiency and reducing energy demand. We are thrilled to be a partner on this innovative project, supporting Oxfordshire SMEs to implement energy efficiency measures, reducing their costs and carbon emissions.

Oxford Brookes University’s Environmental Information Exchange (EiE) will support the development of the service in Oxfordshire, providing energy auditing, feasibility, and project management.

While loans for energy efficiency improvements have previously been available, the innovation we’re exploring in this project uses expert knowledge of solutions that payback quickly, introduce innovative sources of finance, and relies on robust evidence so energy savings are clear.

Other partners involved in the project include:

  • Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy (BASE) – uses expertise in technology, markets, economics, finance and business development to unlock investment in sustainable energy. They will support the project as an advisor. http://energy-base.org
  • Lux Nova – a team of specialist lawyers focusing on clean energy and market transformational projects, supporting the legal aspects of the project. www.luxnovapartners.com
  • Huber Dixon Insurance – is an independent intermediary specialising in providing bespoke solutions for the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology sector, supporting the project through insurance broker engagement.
  • Energy Systems Catapult – will be the market research advisor for EnergyPro as the national franchisor.

Project funding

The project forms part of the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s Boosting Access for SMEs to Energy Efficiency (BASEE) competition – a competition offering up to £6 million of funding for innovative solutions that reduce transaction costs and encourage the take up of energy efficiency by SMEs in the commercial and industrial sectors.

This forms part of the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy (2017), a commitment to enable businesses to improve their energy efficiency by at least 20% by 2030.

Getting involved

We’ll have more information about the project over the coming months. For now, the team would love to hear from SMEs based in Oxfordshire, or with operations in the region, particularly those with ideas for energy efficiency projects. 

We’d also like to hear from contractors, energy saving solution providers and any businesses who would like to make energy efficiency part of their offer, provided they are able to serve clients in Oxfordshire. 

Get in touch by email to info@lowcarbonhub.org.

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