£11m UK government funding for green energy start-ups and entrepreneurs
It is one of the less heralded of the UK government’s various initiatives and schemes and grants but the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund (EEF) has been a success since its introduction under the Conservative/Liberal Democrats Coalition in August 2012. The original objective was “to support the development and demonstration of innovative technologies and/or processes in:
energy efficiency and building technologies;
power generation and storage.
Since then, there have been seven phases of the EEF – administered by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) – during which £72 million worth of grants have been awarded in supporting 156 projects across 132 companies. These projects have attracted more than £500 million in private investment.
On February 4th, the Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan announced the latest phase of the EEF which “seeks to drive forward new clean technologies across all sectors of UK industry” supporting the country’s progress towards the 2050 net-zero carbon target. The fund will reward small or medium-sized enterprises or start-up companies whose innovations:
boost household energy efficiency;
reduce carbon emissions;
develop green transport;
source cleaner and greener ways to generate power and heat.
The fund provides £11 million to support between 15 and 20 projects with each successful energy entrepreneur receiving up to £1 million. The list of recipients of grants in the previous phases read like a roll-call of some of the UK green economy’s more innovative and successful start-ups of the last decade. The list also includes companies who received modest grants which ultimately proved instrumental in their evolution.
Radfan, a radiator manufacturer based in Newcastle, received £20,000 from the first phase of the EEF fund which was used to develop a radiator-mounted fan which assists in warming rooms and prevents heat escaping.
Celtic Renewables, Scottish-based converters of low value biological material into biofuels and renewable chemicals, received £800,000 in 2014 and used this to turn whisky by-products into biofuel.
C-Capture, a Leeds-based carbon capture pioneers, received £800,000 from the EEF fund in 2013, a further £600,000 in phase 4 and another £800,000 in phase 5. They have subsequently become leaders in the field and received £5 million funding from BEIS in 2019.
The above are just three beneficiaries from the EEF fund but they demonstrate how the funds have generated impetus and how forging a link with government agencies can also pay dividends in later years. Furthermore, the award of grants from BEIS improves the profile of a start-up and often leads to an inflow of private investment.
From the government’s perspective, the relatively modest outlay can “create hundreds of green jobs and kickstart millions of pounds worth of private sector investment…helping the country to build back greener” ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.
Details of the application procedure can be found here.