The government has set-up a £8.8 million scheme to fund new products and services that can help to reduce energy demand in small, non-domestic buildings.
The fund has been announced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as the nationwide roll-out of smart meters is expected to draw to a close in 2020. The fund, in particular, is looking at energy reduction initiatives focused on shops, restaurants and schools.
However, it will also lend weight to fears that smart metering will be used to impose energy reductions on consumers, as well as small businesses.
"This competition is looking for projects that develop software tools from smart meter data that are then used to encourage organisations to save energy," claimed BEIS in a statement.
This, it adds, could be via:
- Information such as estimates of financial costs or savings;
- Information and advice on actions that can reduce energy demand and costs such as heating controls and lighting;
- Tailored messages designed to encourage the uptake of advice and sustained behaviour.
The competition will run over a number of phases, with up to £1.8 million up for grabs to fund feasibility studies in a first phase, £675,000 in a second phase for testing, and £4.83 million to develop the 'winning' ideas in a third phase.
BEIS is also providing up to £1.5 million to fund a research and evaluation contractor to work with participants.
However, the deadline for entries is 9 February, although selected projects will enjoy 100 per cent funded development contracts, the BEIS promises.
The UK's smart meter roll-out has been widely criticised for being late, over-budget and over-specified. Early smart meters were also non-standards compliant, which means that many will need to be replaced.
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