A specialist energy efficiency team from Durham County Council along with others from across Europe met online to share ideas of best practice to support SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises).
Representatives from the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Germany, Finland, Slovenia, Spain and Italy, who have been exploring low carbon options for small businesses, joined together online for Interreg Europe’s SME Power virtual study visit event.
Durham County Council is participating in SME Power to share good practice with partners with similar schemes, to learn from their experiences and highlight some of the features which makes projects successful.
The study visit was held online due to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions and enabled international partners to learn from Durham without having to physically be here. The visit was deemed a success and partners are now scheduling follow up discussions to look at aspects of projects in more detail.
It highlighted the BEEP (Business Energy Efficiency Project) programme, which is now in its second phase, supporting SMEs in County Durham to make financial savings by being more energy efficient. BEEP is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and can also provide SMEs with finance in the form of grant support to further reduce the payback of any energy efficient installation.
The council’s low carbon economy team was on hand to talk about how County Durham businesses Beamish Park Golf Course and Ace Motorcycle Training have both accessed support through the BEEP2 scheme to save money by making themselves more energy efficient.
Beamish Park Golf Club members made a unanimous decision, having had advice from the BEEP team, to replace the club’s gas guzzling golf buggies with a complete fleet of 12 new electric ones. Members also had 750 old halogen bulbs replaced with LEDs in the clubhouse, meaning energy bills have gone down providing huge saving. But they didn’t stop there and also decided to put solar panels on the roof.
The club’s hope is that within a year it can reach the maximum amount of solar panels allowed for the size of the building. The club also plans to change the equipment used to maintain its golf course greens to an electric fleet as this is currently another huge expenditure.
Trevor Robson, club member, who was interviewed for a video which was shown at the SME Power event, said: “We had a call from the council asking for a very informal chat and would we be interested in listening to initiatives to do with business efficiency, energy savings and of course the answer was ‘yes please’.
“And from that formed the relationship with BEEP. It was wonderful to have somebody at the end of a phone for a little bit of advice, such as whether we were going down the right road and what they could do to support us in any way. And that support was always there.”
Cllr Mark Wilkes, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “We’re delighted that our BEEP team was able to be a part of this online meeting and share ideas with others about energy efficiency.
“If you feel that your business could be spending too much on energy bills or you don’t know where to start with making sure your lighting and equipment meets modern efficiency standards, please contact the team to find out more.”
More details on how to apply for funding through BEEP are available at www.beep.uk.net/apply-now