£315m tech fund launched to help businesses cut emissions and energy bills

A £315 million fund to reduce carbon emissions from energy-intensive businesses has been launched in the UK.

The fund will help to finance new technology that will reduce energy use and shrink the carbon footprint of the most polluting factories, helping to meet the country’s climate targets.

The scheme is forecast to cut carbon emissions by 2 million tonnes or the equivalent of taking nearly 200,000 cars off the road each year. Moreover, it should help save £1 billion a year on industrial energy bills by 2030.

The Industrial Energy Transformation Fund opens for bids next summer and builds on the £250 million Clean Steel Fund scheme launched in late August. The second funding round will be held in 2021 and the fund will continue through to 2024.

Challenging sector

Eight sectors (cement, ceramics, chemicals, food and drink, glass, iron and steel, oil refining, and pulp and paper) emit around two-thirds of industrial carbon emissions, while the heavy industry sector as whole contributes a quarter of the UK’s carbon footprint.

It is seen as a very challenging area of the economy but one that can be effectively decarbonised with the right technology.

Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said:

“The UK is already cutting emissions faster than any other major economy and we’re the first to legislate to end our contribution to climate change entirely. Eliminating emissions from industry is key to achieving this, but doing so does not have to mean compromising our business success. That’s why we’re bolstering our investment in clean growth.

“Ensuring energy intensive businesses are equipped with the latest low-emission technologies will not only helps our transition to net-zero, but will also ensure these companies are more agile and competitive going forward – creating new skilled, well-paid jobs.”

Legislation in June committed the UK to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 to aid the battle against global heating.

Heat costs

Businesses are already taking steps to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint. One example highlighted at the fund launch is in the ceramics sector, whose energy accounts for a third of its production costs. Heat reduction programmes have reduced the heat used to glaze tableware by 5%, helping cut their carbon footprint by 25%.

Other companies are trialling new software which uses algorithms to shut down non-essential machines when renewable energy is low and demand from the National Grid is high. This helps to reduce bills by only using electricity at cheaper times when renewable energy output is higher.

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