In an extension to its existing scheme, the Carbon Trust has expanded eligibility for its government-funded range of "green loans" to include micro-businesses and medium-sized enterprises.
The minimum loan amount has been lowered to £3,000, putting the loans within reach of micro-businesses in need of a new energy efficient boiler, eco lighting or energy saving devices. The upper limit has been doubled from £200,000 to £400,000 to meet the needs of small and medium businesses with high energy spends: manufacturing companies looking to fit their factories with modern, less power-hungry production equipment, for example.
Carbon Trust chief executive Tom Delay says: “Small and medium businesses are the backbone of the UK economy and key to the move to the low carbon world. We are extending a helping hand to them by offering more than £100m in interest-free, unsecured loans at a time when bank funding is hard to come by.
“Our zero per cent loan offer is as close to free money as a business can get, and is flexible enough to help almost any small or medium business, from the corner fish and chip shop to a factory." The Carbon Trust offers free advice to small businesses who are looking to cut energy costs, including an on-site diagnostic to identify any real problem areas. If you are a UK-based business with 250 employees and under and a turnover of £42m or less (€50m), you are eligible to apply for a green loan.
Under its new guidelines, the Carbon Trust expects to deliver over £100m in loan funding to UK SMEs over the next two years, including almost £84m in England allocated by the government as part of Budget 2009.
Department of energy and climate change minister Lord Hunt says: “Climate change is one of the biggest threats to our planet so it’s vital that everyone plays their part. Taking action offers a huge opportunity for businesses to save money on their energy bills as well as reducing emissions and driving the move to a low carbon economy. “The government is helping businesses to do just that by making over £80m of new funding available for energy saving loans for small and medium sized businesses in England, delivered by the Carbon Trust – taking total funding available to over £100m.”
One business owner who has recently taken advantage of a Carbon Trust loan funding is Jeff Greenall, founder of The Cavan Bakery in Hampton Hill, Middlesex. In 2008, Greenall received an interest-free loan of £31,000, enabling him to replace the bakery’s ageing oven and electric boilers with a new energy efficient gas powered steam oven.
As a result, The Cavan Bakery’s gas consumption has dropped by 75 per cent and it is also saving 500 units of electricity each month – savings that have helped the business counter rising energy costs and ride out current economic difficulties.
“The Carbon Trust was very helpful, and applying for the loan was incredibly straight forward,’ said Jeff Greenall. “I kept thinking ‘what’s the catch?’.”