Scottish SMEs offered ‘cashback’ loan for energy-efficiency projects

Small businesses in Scotland have been encouraged to take advantage of a new "cashback" scheme that could enable them to cut annual energy usage by a quarter and save up to £10,000 in the process.

The Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland have today (1 February) announced the cashback scheme, which enables eligible small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to apply for a loan with 30% cash back on value if their listed energy efficiency improvements are met.

“Improving energy efficiency is one of the smartest ways that businesses in Scotland can hold onto their hard-earned profits and make a real difference to the bottom line,” the Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse said.

“In addition to benefits for individual businesses, reducing the environmental impact of Scotland’s energy needs will bring us closer to the low carbon energy future set out in Scotland’s Energy Strategy – generating benefits for Scotland’s economy as well as the environment.”

Since 2013, Scotland’s SME Loan scheme has invested almost £10m into business, and the new fund – part of Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) – will help businesses improve energy performance over a 15-to-20-year period.

The loan will target SMEs that have energy efficiency projects in the pipeline that can lower emissions, energy usage and demonstrate cost savings. The 30% cashback offer can generate up to £10,000 for SMEs, while the energy efficiency improvements could create savings of up to £8,000 on average each year.

Projects such as LED retrofits, efficient heating systems and building insulation are all eligible under the fund, and Zero Waste Scotland will provide advisors to guide businesses through the application process at no cost.

Zero Waste Scotland’s chief executive Iain Gulland added: “Our work with small businesses in Scotland tells us that companies want to do their bit for the environment – indeed, our advisors have already supported organisations in Scotland to identify over £42million worth of savings.

“We understand that with small businesses, the need to see fast return on investment and the time needed to complete lengthy application processes can preclude positive action. That’s why the SME Loan and associated support is designed with busy Scottish SMEs in mind – and with up to £10,000 cashback now available there’s even more reason to act and secure a more sustainable, cost-effective future for your business.”

The Scottish Government will publish a SEEP route map later this year to outline how the £500m earmarked for the scheme will be spent to help the nation reduce its carbon emissions through energy efficiency upgrades.

The announcement arrives one week after Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham announced an update to the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP).

The update enables businesses to access a £60m fund to scale projects that can help deliver the nation’s low-carbon heat, energy and vehicle solutions.

The LCITP programme has already supported 16 low-carbon projects, backing them with more than £40m in collective funding. Successfully-backed projects range from pioneering district heat networks to a battery storage project.

National opportunities

However, Scotland isn’t the only Home Nation attempting to help SMEs improve their energy resiliency and lower costs.

Last March, the Welsh Government unveiled a £6.5m fund to help SMEs make the transformation towards a circular economy. The fund will help Wales towards the milestones of 70% recycling by 2025 and 100% recycling by 2050, as set out in the Welsh Government’s waste strategy Towards Zero Waste.

In England, London-based SMEs can gain from the London Waste and Recycling Board’s (LWARB) Advance London scheme to adopt and scale-up resource-efficient business models.

The scheme forms part of a £50m three-year programme which LWARB hopes will kick-start the Mayor of London’s challenge for London to achieve a 65% recycling rate by 2030 and become a zero-carbon city by 2050.

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie