Three ambitious projects have won nearly £3.5million funding from the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership to boost the region’s energy security and meet Net Zero targets.
The three schemes were selected from 29 different projects which applied for cash from the LEP’s innovative Marches Energy Fund.
Marches LEP chair Mandy Thorn MBE said the successful schemes would make a vital contribution to the region’s energy strategy and play a major role in safeguarding supplies and building clean, green energy for the future.
The three successful schemes are:
The Marches Energy Grant: A new funding pot of £1.575m to help companies use energy more efficiently, driving down waste and cutting carbon emissions. The scheme will be open to businesses across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin and build on the success of the Business Energy Efficiency programme (BEEP).
Marches Network Monitoring to support Community Decarbonisation: A project delivered by the National Grid and EA Technology to install monitors at 250 substations across the Marches which help make the most efficient use of the energy available and so boost capacity. The project is receiving £654,000.
Herefordshire Low Carbon Technology Centre: The scheme, to be delivered by Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College, will develop industry-leading new training in green skills and has been awarded £1.2million.
Mrs Thorn said the LEP had received a huge amount of interest since announcing the fund earlier this year and was delighted to be able to award the grants.
“These three schemes were selected after a comprehensive assessment process and we are confident they will play a major role in helping deliver key aspects of our energy strategy.
“The response to our funding call has been tremendous and truly shows the breadth of innovation in green and sustainable technology we have across the Marches.”
LEP chief executive Rachel Laver said the three schemes had beaten stiff competition to be successful.
“These are high-quality strategic schemes which will deliver results for years to come. They will help us to deepen our provision for green skills training across the region, ensure we are making the best use of the energy we already have and help businesses of all sizes reduce their costs and carbon emissions by being as energy efficient as possible.
“I can think of no better way for the LEP to use its funding. It helps us meet our climate responsibilities but also offers direct assistance to our business community during the current energy crisis.”
Details of how to apply for the Marches Energy Grant – which will be delivered in a partnership with Worcestershire County Council – will be announced later this month. It will offer free advice and grants for energy efficiency and renewable energy measures for SMEs from all sectors (including B2C) and community buildings.
“The grant will continue and build on the success of previous and existing
programmes, including BEEP and the Marches Renewable Energy Grant, pulling together the previous support into one place. It will be promoted through the Marches Growth Hub and offer real help to businesses on the ground,” said Rachel.
The network monitoring scheme will see special equipment installed at substations across the Marches, targeted to focus on areas of community interest and/or areas prioritised for inward investment. The equipment allows more of the energy being supplied by the National Grid to be used, meaning capacity on the grid is increased significantly.
“This is a prime example of a strategic scheme which will help free up available energy capacity, allowing other projects currently on hold because of grid constraints to go ahead in its wake,” said Rachel.
The Herefordshire Low Carbon Technology Centre will be housed at the college’s Holme Lacy Campus on the edge of Hereford and offer industry-accredited training to the construction industry, developing the skills required to install low-carbon technologies. The centre will also train the college’s electrical, plumbing and construction students and apprentices.
“The centre will be amongst the first nationally to offer the new apprenticeship standard in Low Carbon Heating Technician and showcase low carbon technologies, improving
business and home efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions,” added Rachel.
The LEP, which works with public and private sector partners to develop economic growth across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, launched its £4million energy fund in June to support the development of innovations which safeguard the region’s energy supply and help with the drive to Net Zero.
It received 29 expressions of interest totalling £50million worth of projects.
It has held £500,000 in reserve with the option to award it to new projects or existing schemes in the future.