Foster announces £8.5 million energy efficiency support for business

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has announced funding of £8.5million, from Invest Northern Ireland, to help local businesses improve energy efficiency.

The funding for the Carbon Trust will support the continued delivery throughout 2009/10 and 2010/11, of measures that will help companies improve their profitability whilst reducing carbon emissions and environmental impact. The support is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The Carbon Trust is a UK-wide, not-for-dividend company, funded locally by Invest NI. As well as helping businesses in all sectors improve their energy efficiency, the Carbon Trust supports commercial investment in innovative low carbon and sustainable energy technologies.

Announcing the additional support from Invest NI the Minister said: “As local businesses continue to feel the effects of the economic downturn, many are more conscious than ever of reducing operating costs where possible. The Carbon Trust can help companies make efficiency savings that will achieve this and boost profit margins.

“The organisation has a proven track record of helping Northern Ireland businesses get the most out of their energy supplies. Funded locally by Invest NI since 2002, the Carbon Trust has engaged with over 600 companies here each year generating real savings of over £50million and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by over half a million tonnes.

“Currently every £1 that is spent on Carbon Trust activities in Northern Ireland generates an efficiency saving of £6. Alongside this, assistance from the Carbon Trust has levered over £90million of private sector investment in energy efficient and low carbon solutions. This new funding is expected to generate a further £30million.”

The Minister concluded: “I am therefore confident that this support from Invest NI can deliver real bottom line improvements to local businesses of all sizes and help them navigate the current challenging economic climate.”

One of the measures being continued by Carbon Trust is an interest free energy efficiency loan of up to £400,000 to help businesses install the latest energy efficient and renewable energy equipment. Since 2003 the Carbon Trust has provided £10million in interest free loans to 140 local companies helping them reduce costs by £4million annually.

Carbon Trust experts can also carry out audits of companies’ energy use which identify sometimes simple steps for improving energy efficiency and saving money.

Michael Rea, Chief Operating Officer of the Carbon Trust in the UK said: “This substantial funding from Invest NI will enable the Carbon Trust to engage with more Northern Ireland businesses than ever before.

“With our help companies can reduce not only their operating costs, but also their carbon footprint. In the current economic climate this can give them a competitive edge as recent research by the Carbon Trust shows that a business’s green credentials have a significant impact on consumer buying choices.

“Two thirds of consumers say it is important for them to buy from environmentally responsible companies, and one in seven say that they have voted with their feet by deciding not to buy from a company based on their environmental reputation. Proactive companies that take action to reduce their carbon footprint stand to gain from an enhanced reputation and substantial energy cost savings.”