European support has been secured for the city council’s innovative Birmingham Energy Savers (BES) scheme.

New funding worth £1.3million will help the council establish the latest phase of the BES project – a programme to equip 60,000 city homes with energy-saving measures such as new boilers, improved insulation and solar panels.

As well as contributing to setting up the programme, the funding will help to cover the costs of feasibility studies and development activities to give the programme the best chance of success, including market testing and supply chain development.

The European Investment Bank supports Birmingham’s procurement of a Green Deal provider and it is expected that the Birmingham initiative will encourage similar schemes by other local authorities in the UK and Europe. This specialist technical assistance grant from the European Union’s long-term lending institution was provided under the European Local Energy Assistance programme, managed on behalf of the European Commission’s Intelligent Energy Europe programme.

Cllr James McKay, Cabinet Member for a Green, Safe and Smart city, said: “By fitting homes across Birmingham with energy saving measures we will be helping citizens, including some of the poorest, to save money on their domestic fuel bills – making a real difference to their day-to-day lives.

“Birmingham has higher rates of fuel poverty than any core city and the West Midlands has higher rates than any other region, so it’s vital we get on with equipping our homes with as many green measures as possible, as quickly as we can.

“Having previously received support from the Government for our efforts, it is hugely encouraging to obtain backing from an organisation as renowned as the European Investment Bank. This shows we are at the cutting edge of the retrofit agenda.”

Simon Brooks, European Investment Bank Vice President, said: “Energy efficiency is a priority for the EIB. The ELENA projects in Birmingham, supported by the EIB, will reduce heating costs and improve energy efficiency in homes across the city. We are delighted to work with Birmingham City Council on this initiative and keen to intensify our co-operation in this important sector with other cities in the UK.”

It is planned to launch the BES programme in October, at the same time as the Government's flagship Green Deal scheme which aims to secure similar benefits on a nationwide basis.

Two pilot phases of BES have already seen 1,200 properties benefit, mainly from solar panels, but this transformational programme is designed to act as a springboard for the eventual retrofitting of energy saving measures on 200,000 homes in the city.

An update report on all aspects of BES is due to be presented to the city council’s Cabinet on July 16.

About ELENA funding

Many EU towns and regions lack the necessary technical expertise and organisational capacity to implement large energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The benefits of cutting energy use and pollution are clear, but the challenge is to guarantee value for money and timeliness, as well as securing extra funding. ELENA (“European Local ENergy Assistance”) is there to help. Run by the EIB, it is funded through the European Commission’s Intelligent Energy-Europe programme.

How ELENA helps

ELENA covers up to 90 per cent of the technical support cost needed to prepare, implement and set up financing for the investment programme. This could include feasibility and market studies, programme structuring, energy audits and tendering procedure preparation. With solid business and technical plans in place, this will also help attract funding from private banks and other sources, including the EIB. So whether it is the retrofitting of public and private buildings, sustainable building, energy-efficient district heating and cooling networks, environmentally-friendly transport etc, ELENA helps local authorities get their projects on the right track.

Projected benefits of the Birmingham Energy Savers programme by 2020

  • 8,000 jobs created and safeguarded 61,000 property owners/occupiers benefiting 
  • Annual saving in domestic fuel bills between £120 and £360
  • 60,000 houses and 1,000 non-domestic properties benefiting from improved energy efficiency
  • Total annual savings for households and businesses of £12m
  • 108,000 tonnes reduction of CO2 emitted per year

In the first three years, 15,000 houses will be improvised as follows:

  • 3,000 in year one
  • 4,500 in year two
  • 7,500 in year three