Ministerial Blog: Fergus Ewing - Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism

13 November 2012

I am delighted to have been invited to write a blog for the VIBES Award for the second year in a row. As you’ll hopefully be aware the Scottish Government Sponsors the Energy Award which rightfully congratulates Scotland’s most environmentally-friendly businesses who prove themselves to be a source of inspiration around implementing energy efficiency measures and developing innovative energy saving solutions.

Last year I wrote that it’s essential to simplify the landscape for energy and resource efficiency advice to business, particularly for SMEs. The Scottish Government will simplify and streamline the energy and resource efficiency advice and support delivery landscape through the integration of its non-domestic energy and material resource efficiency services currently being provided by Zero Waste Scotland, Carbon Trust and Energy Saving Trust.

The new Resource Efficient Scotland programme will provide support to businesses, third sector and public sector organisations to reduce overheads through improved energy, material resource and water efficiency, and in doing so it will help cut carbon across public and private sectors organisations. This holistic approach to low carbon transition ultimately aims to help more businesses to reduce their emissions, save money and increase their competitiveness.

The new Resource Efficient Scotland programme is expected to be operational from April 2013. It will have three key components:

A Scotland wide Integrated Business and Public Sector Advice and Support core service, replacing the three services provided currently. This will deliver practical technical advice and support to all business and public sector organisations on waste/material resource use, energy and water efficiency. It will focus on the implementation of resource efficiency measures, including advice around finance and how to access it.

· In addition to this core service, Resource Efficient Scotland will provide a suite of sector-focused activities tailored to meet the specific needs of business and public sector across Scotland in order to deliver resource efficiency savings. Work is progressing to identify the sectors where there is significant efficiency saving potential and where Resource Efficient Scotland will therefore focus its efforts in the first instance. It is anticipated that these may include: Construction, Food & Drink, Hospitality, Public Sector, Textiles, Chemicals/ Petrochemicals/ Pharmaceuticals & Manufacturing. More sectors will be included as the programme evolves.

· The third element of the programme – an Integrated Business and Public Sector Intelligence strand – will be a group of workstreams supporting the whole programme activity including monitoring and evaluation workstreams leading to the continual development and improvement of the Resource Efficient Scotland programme.

As ever, I would also like to use this blog to highlight that SMEs can take advantage of the Energy Saving Scotland small business loans scheme, delivered on our behalf by the Energy Saving Trust, to small and medium enterprises, for renewable energy technologies or energy efficiency measures (interest free to 5% interest depending on measures chosen). Scottish SMEs, private landlords and not-for-profit organisations received a total of 197 loans worth £5.127m from the Energy Saving Scotland small business loans scheme in financial year 2011-12.

Also, I hope you will be interested to know that last year we paid out £1.1m in loans was paid out to six district heating projects through the district heating loan scheme, this year we are offering loans to 10 more projects worth £2.1m which will help provide affordable heat to homes in fuel poverty, leisure facilities, community centres and a school. Another £400,000 has also been allocated subject to further information.

The loans are part of a scheme open to local authorities, housing associations, small to medium sized enterprises and energy service companies. The scheme was designed to help address the financial barriers to district heating schemes, as borrowing commercially to fund these schemes can be extremely difficult and expensive.

More details about the approved applications can be found here: www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2012/10/districtheating1102012.

If you have district heating projects which you would like to be considered for next year’s funding round (2013-14) please contact districtheatingloans@est.org.uk with a brief description of the project.

Back to the VIBES Award! I wish all the applicants luck with the competition and congratulate them for taking part and being apart of the Greener Revolution.

Fergus Ewing, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism

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