Economy Minister Arlene Foster has announced funding worth £4.9million for the Carbon Trust to help local businesses cut their energy costs.
The Carbon Trust, a UK-wide not-for-profit organisation, funded locally by Invest NI, works to help companies reduce carbon emissions and exploit low carbon technologies.
The £4.9million worth of assistance will support a programme of measures, throughout 2008/09, that will improve the energy efficiency of companies across Northern Ireland.
Welcoming the new support from Invest NI, the Minister said: “In the current global climate of difficult economic conditions and the ongoing effects of the ‘credit crunch’, businesses are keen to reduce their overheads wherever possible. By considering and implementing methods of reducing their energy costs, many businesses in Northern Ireland can achieve this and improve their bottom line, whilst minimising their impact on the environment.
“Last year the Carbon Trust helped companies here to reduce their energy costs by £18.3million, a return on investment of over six-to-one. The renewed backing of Invest NI will help the Carbon Trust build on this success and help local businesses to even further improve the productivity of Northern Ireland as a whole.”
The programme of measures being rolled out by the Carbon Trust includes site surveys for local companies to help identify methods of reducing energy costs. There will also be training and skills events, tailored to help address the energy concerns of companies across a range of business sectors.
The Carbon Trust will also help companies to develop and commercialise low carbon technologies such as bio-energy and advanced building materials.
An additional method used by the Carbon Trust to improve energy efficiency of companies here is the availability of its interest-free Energy Efficiency Loans Scheme. The loans, of up to a maximum of £400,000 per project, enable companies to install more energy efficient plant and equipment and renewable energy technologies.
Geoff Smyth, Northern Ireland Manager of the Carbon Trust, said: “Improving the standard of energy management and efficiency within companies is the most effective way to reduce carbon emissions whilst also reducing overheads. This funding is great news for Northern Ireland businesses, enabling us to help even more companies cut their energy costs, and reduce their carbon footprint.
“It will also allow us to support innovative local companies working to develop and commercially exploit the opportunity provided by the increasing demand for low carbon products, goods and services.”