Government launches £1 billion scheme to decarbonise public sector

09 October 2020 4 min. read

The UK Government has launched a new £1 billion Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, supporting public sector organisations to delivery energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation. According to Alexandra Hammond, Sustainability Director at consultancy ETL, public sector organisations must act quickly to avoid being “left behind” by this opportunity.

Announced at the end of September 2020, the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) is a Government scheme offering grants for public sector bodies to fund energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation measures. The £1 billion scheme is part of the Chancellor’s ‘Plan for Jobs 2020’ commitment, which aims to boost the UK’s economic recovery from Covid-19 as well as the Government’s net zero and clean growth goals, supporting up to 30,000 skilled jobs in the low carbon and energy efficiency sectors.

The hope is it will help reduce non-traded carbon emissions from the public sector by up to 0.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) per year, and up to 0.5 MtCO2e over each of the next two five-year Carbon Budgets – the equivalent to taking nearly 45,000 cars off the road. Overseen by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), applications are currently open for public sector bodies to avail themselves of the fund, with the deadline for applications on January 11th 2021.

Alexandra Hammond, Sustainability Director, ETL

Commenting on the news, Alexandra Hammond, Sustainability Director at public sector specialist consultancy ETL said, “This is an exciting turning point for the UK. Public sector leaders have been provided with a huge opportunity to facilitate the transition to net zero carbon and include interventions that were previously difficult to fund, such as heat pumps and other renewable sources of energy.”

ETL is a multidisciplinary consultancy which can trace its heritage to the public sector, having been formed in 2014 by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. The consultancy, which re-invests profits within the Trust, now comprises of 80 experts across the UK and Ireland.

In particular, ETL specialises in providing funding application and procurement support which will assist in the delivery of zero or low carbon heat networks across the public sector within the tight timeframes. In 2018 for example, it supported over 25 NHS Trusts with NHS Energy Efficiency Fund (NEEF) applications. From this particular standpoint, Hammond urged NHS Trusts, Councils, schools, prisons, and any other public sector organisations to act quickly to make use of this new grant funding.

“Don’t be left behind,” warned Hammond. “Most public sector organisations have set targets ahead of 2050 with the NHS announcing its 2040 target this week; we need to act now to make changes that will have a significant impact in years to come… There is funding available to support site visits and application development – there’s never been a more opportune time to take action towards net zero.”

Healthcare providers are currently under strain in the UK, thanks to multiple challenges that have shifted public demand and the ability to meet it, and creating energy efficient, low emission infrastructure could offer up some vital savings to be spent elsewhere. To this end, the demand for energy efficient buildings in the healthcare sector is set to surpass $6 billion by 2027 – something which means being offered funds to contribute toward this process are not to be spurned.

More broadly, with UK public sector bodies obliged to achieve net zero by 2050 at the latest, this fund enables organisations to drive the transition to zero/low heat networks to prepare for a net-zero carbon future. Efficiency technologies will be required to achieve savings of a minimum of one tonne of carbon per £500 spent, and also require organisations to plan out their journey to decarbonise heat. According to the ETL expert, consulting firms can play a key role in helping NHS Trusts and other public bodies to tap into the BEIS fund.

Hammond concluded, “Organisations must act quickly to secure funding and progress net zero carbon and sustainability ambitions. As an industry-leader in the provision of funding application and procurement support, ETL aims to assist in the delivery of zero/low carbon heat networks across the public sector within the tight timeframes.”