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UK Energy Entrepreneurs' Fund opens for business


Low-carbon entrepreneurs, in particular innovative individuals and small and medium-sized companies, could benefit from a £16 million (€20 million) call for proposals published by the British government at the end of August. The funding is available for projects that will largely be conducted in the United Kingdom, and the call is open until 31 October 2012.

The call is targeted specifically at energy entrepreneurs. £10 million (€12.5 million) will be granted to projects dealing with energy efficiency technologies such as building control systems, advanced lighting systems, and heating and cooling technologies. The remaining £6 million (€7.5 million) will go towards power generation and energy storage technologies including fuel cells, biomass boilers and heat pumps.

UK Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said the funding would be “vital” for eco-innovation. “This investment will help entrepreneurs with novel ideas get designs off the drawing board and into our homes and businesses, helping cut carbon and spur on growth in this exciting market place,” he said.

Under the call, up to £1million (€1.25 million) in funding will be provided to the selected proposals, with no specific requirement to find match-funding, though projects offering the greatest value for money will be looked upon favourably. Collaborative proposals are also encouraged. Proposed projects should demonstrate improved performance characteristics for existing technologies, new component technologies that can be used to improve existing systems, or products, processes or technologies that can reduce the cost of installation or maintenance of existing systems.

More to come

The call is the first from the UK's Energy Entrepreneurs' Fund, which, overall, will dedicate £35 million (€43.7 million) to low-carbon technologies. A further call offering £19 million (€23.7 million) in project funding will be published in 2013.

The Energy Entrepreneurs' Fund is itself part of £200 million (€249.6 million) in eco-innovation support being provided by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change until 2015. Other funds will be allocated to development of carbon capture and storage technologies (€25 million), energy-efficiency in non-domestic buildings (€12.5 million) and a specific scheme to trial hot-water storage integrated with heat pumps in domestic buildings (€3.5 million).

Innovation is a key component of the UK strategy to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets. Through the UK Climate Change Act, the government pledged to reduce Britain's emissions by 34 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, compared to a 1990 baseline. The UK government has said that eco-innovation can help to tackle climate change and other environmental challenges, and can boost Britain's low-carbon and environmental goods and services sector, which was worth £112 billion (€140 billion) and employed 910,000 people in the UK in 2008-09.