“Fuelling” Our Future – maybe a cleaner approach? Cllr Ian Courts, GBSLEP Board Director and Leader of Solihull Council

“Fuelling” Our Future – maybe a cleaner approach? Cllr Ian Courts, GBSLEP Board Director and Leader of Solihull Council

02 Oct 2021

News of rising gas prices and uncertainty over power supplies is dominating the UK headlines. For consumers and businesses, this means higher bills, as well as finding ways to reduce energy use and exploring alternative energy sources.

This comes as scientists, politicians, consumers, and businesses alike already acknowledge the benefits that come from investing in a more sustainable, decarbonised society. To demonstrate our commitment, Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership has signed up to the Race to Zero Campaign, helping the region along its ambitious and vital transition to net zero in the next two decades.

The transition to lower carbon alternatives is critical to ensure that we can mitigate the worst effects of global warming. However, the incentive to be more sufficient, and efficient, with the energy that we do use has never been stronger.

GBSLEP acknowledges the scale of the challenge in our Strategic Economic Plan 2016-2030. We articulate strategic objectives that enable our stakeholders and the region to transition smoothly, to allow our low carbon businesses to flourish and grow into world-leaders in the Net Zero transition. We continue to invest in practical support for the decarbonization of business and for innovative solutions.

I was very pleased to be appointed Net Zero Champion on our Board earlier this year and to lead a comprehensive programme of low carbon initiatives being rolled out. The climate change crisis has never been more in the spotlight than it is now, but we need to move from headlines to practical actions, as well as develop technology and solutions to tackle the crisis.

GBSLEP is embracing this challenge and I am proud to be involved with this effort. A first example of this activity is the key role the GBSLEP played in the growth of Tyseley Energy Park, which has become a nexus of low carbon innovation within the wider region. Here we invested in a new access road to the previously landlocked site, as well as £7 million into the Birmingham Energy Innovation Centre (BEIC) and a further £892,000 has been allocated to the Energy Transition Centre.

GBSLEP has recently launched its 2021/22 Low Carbon and Circular Economy Grant fund. If you are a business in need of up to £30k to support your circular economy or decarbonization feasibility work, there is time to apply for a grant, here. In 2020, the fund supported the development of key innovations within the energy system. One of its recipients, IPV Flexgen, used the grant to work with partners to explore the feasibility of an integrated microgrid system, using solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells to fuel the needs of a vertical farming facility. In another project, the Confederation of British Metalforming, Kelvin Thermotech and the University of Birmingham partnered to explore how composite Phase Change Material could be used to improve the energy efficiency of energy-intensive industrial users.

In September 2021, we launched our Growing Place Capital Fund programme around the themes of clean growth and young people. We invite proposals from organizations that need up to £500k to help them drive clean growth in the region; we particularly invite proposals that generate opportunities for young people to gain work experience, skills, and employment. You can find more information here.

We are also currently offering free subscriptions to the online Zellar platform. This gives businesses a dashboard where they can monitor their energy and carbon performance, and connect with a marketplace of sustainability projects, carbon offsetting options and low carbon products. Check out the online registration form here to learn more and sign up.

The above gives a flavour of current opportunities and measures being delivered by the GBSLEP. We are continuously working on ways to support the region’s journey to net zero. If you want to discuss ways in which you could contribute, we would like to hear from you! Get in touch with our Senior Policy Officer for Low Carbon, Alex Taylor at Alex.Taylor@gbslep.co.uk

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