What is the public sector decarbonisation scheme?

Find out how it’s helping decarbonise the public sector

With the UK Government’s commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, a series of multi-year projects have recently been launched in order to help achieve that goal. One such project is the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS).

In this guide, we’ll explain what decarbonisation is, how the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme helps local authorities and public bodies reduce carbon emissions, and where you can find eligible projects for decarbonising your business.

What does decarbonisation mean?

Decarbonisation is a process we use to make fossil fuels – such as coal, oil, and gas – release less carbon dioxide when they are burned. It’s an important technique in the fight against climate change.

There are many different ways to decarbonise, with the most obvious being switching to cleaner energy, like electricity generation by renewables such as wind, solar, and wave power. Another important step is to clean up they way we currently burn fossil fuels. That’s done by decarbonising heat.

Decarbonising heat is a process we use to make heating systems – such as boilers, water heaters, and cookers – release less carbon dioxide when they are used to heat buildings or power industrial processes.

How does decarbonisation impact climate change?

Decarbonisation can have a massive impact on climate change. Burning coal, oil, or gas releases CO2 into the atmosphere, which then becomes a greenhouse gas, trapping heat and contributing to global warming.

If we burn less fossil fuels overall, in addition to burning fossil fuels more efficiently, we will reduce the amount of CO2 that’s released into the atmosphere and can avoid the worst affects of climate change.

Currently, there are a huge array of industries in the UK still relying heavily on the burning of fossil fuels, including oil and gas,

It’s impossible to halt climate change without decarbonising these industries, which is why multiple schemes have launched in the UK in an attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. One of the most recent is the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS).

What is the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS)?

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) is a financial support scheme that aims to encourage energy efficiency and the decarbonisation of gas heating systems in the UK public sector.

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme supports organisations to undertake energy efficiency and gas heating decarbonisation projects, which means that they work to reduce carbon emissions by gradually switching to greener energy systems.

The scheme was launched in Autumn 2020 and will providing funding for public sector bodies – including schools, universities, local councils, and hospitals – to take a ‘whole building’ approach to decarbonising their heating systems.

Under the scheme, public sector organisations will be able to combine low-carbon heating system upgrades with energy efficiency measures in order to drastically reduce the public sector’s overall carbon emissions.

How does the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme work?

The PSDS invites central Government departments and other public sector bodies to apply for support to create and implement greener heat and buildings strategy.

The scheme will provide the funding to help the average public sector body take energy efficiency measures, move away from their existing fossil fuel heating system, and will also create jobs in the new green economy.

The scheme is being rolled out in three phases, detailed below.

Phase 1

The public sector decarbonisation scheme grants as part of the UK Chancellor’s “Plan for Jobs” pledge to support the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19. Up to 30,000 low-carbon and energy-efficiency sector jobs will be provided as a result of the scheme, with £1 billion pledged in Phase 1.

Phase 2

The second phase, which began on 1 April 2021, provides £75 million in grant money for the financial year 2021/2022. It has a stronger focus on heat decarbonisation than Phase 1, and will ramp up the decarbonisation of whole buildings across entire public sector estates.

Phase 3

Phase 3 of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme will receive £1.425 billion of funding over the period 2022/2023 to 2024/2025. Right now there are no firm details about the steps that will be taken in Phase 3, but the UK Government insists further detail will be published in due course.

How does the decarbonisation fund benefit the public sector?

The PSDS helps public bodies by covering the costs associated with decarbonisation and other energy efficiency measures – including insulation, draught-proofing, new boilers or cookers.

This enables them to reduce their carbon footprint – installing energy efficient technology that reduces the need to use heating systems as frequently – while saving them money in the process.

As well as its ability to deliver significant carbon savings to existing public bodies, the PSDS will also create more value in the public sector overall by committing money to creating the new green jobs that will provide the platform for the green economy.

Is there any other grant funding available for decarbonisation?

The public sector’s role in the UK’s net zero strategy can’t be underestimated, which is why schemes like PSDS see funding awarded for the decarbonisation of buildings across the public sector.

The Scottish Government has recently launched a similar scheme. Over the next five years, the Scottish Government says it will allocate £200 million to help Scotland’s public sector estates decarbonise and contribute effectively towards wider climate change goals.

In Ireland, there is grant funding available for decarbonising your business in the form of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat, a Government-funded scheme that supports the adoption of renewable heating systems by commercial, industrial, agricultural, district heating, public sector bodies.

Where can I get more information on decarbonisation?

Given that the UK and Irish Governments have set such ambitious green energy targets, a solid net zero strategy is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it’s an imperative, whether you’re a public sector body or a private business.

At ActionZero, our team of experts specialise in devising and delivering the tools and strategies that help businesses on the road to net zero. We can help you too.

If you’re interested in switching to low carbon heating, mapping out your business’s road to net zero, or are just looking for further information, talk to us today.

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