Concept’s guide to SEEF: The Salix Energy Efficiency Fund for academies
New finance will soon be available to drive energy efficiency in academies and free schools.
The Salix Energy Efficiency Fund, or SEEF, will reopen in autumn 2020, and aims to help reduce energy usage through the uptake of energy efficient technologies.
We don’t yet have the full details of the latest round of SEEF funding, but it’s a well-established scheme. Below is some background on SEEF, for those new to the fund.
What is the SEEF fund?
SEEF awards interest-free loans to individual academies, academy sixth forms, free schools and those in Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) to fund the installation of energy efficient technologies. The aim is to lower energy bills and create a more comfortable learning environment for students and staff.
It’s managed by Salix – a not-for-profit organisation funded by the government. The loans are repaid from the estimated savings on energy bills.
What technologies are funded under SEEF?
SEEF supports over 100 technologies that are shown to cut costs and reduce your carbon footprint. The full list is on the Salix website, but it includes heating and cooling system upgrades, LED lighting and renewable energy projects.
What are the benefits of SEEF?
SEEF offers a low risk, cost-neutral opportunity to lower your energy bills and reduce the carbon footprint of your school. There is no upfront cost – and repayments are based on the predicted energy savings.
This may be welcome news to academies reporting publicly for the first time under the new Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting framework (SECR). SECR doesn’t require you to reduce your energy use, but it does ask for a narrative of energy efficiency action taken over the financial year, and aims to make academies more accountable for their energy use.
It’s also an opportunity to enhance the learning environment, for example by improving the temperature control or light in your classrooms.
What are the funding criteria?
Each applicant is allowed to submit one application, although this can consist of multiple projects. Multi-Academy Trusts can submit one application for each academy within the trust.
We don’t yet have full details for this latest round of funding, but historically, successful projects have needed a payback period of 8 years – i.e. the project should essentially ‘pay for itself’ within 8 years, through lower energy bills. Projects in the past needed to cost no more than £222 for every tonne of carbon saved.
The minimum loan value that can be requested is £8k, and the maximum is £150k. It’s worth noting that projects can be part funded if they exceeded the maximum loan value or payback period – and that the payback can be a combined payback of multiple measures – so for example, pipe insulation and renewables combined.
Can I apply for both SEEF funding and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme?
Yes. Income from the RHI scheme is valid in SEEF’s 8 year payback rules. When you apply for SEEF funding, the RHI benefit can be incorporated into the energy price (p/kWh). By doing this, the combined financial benefit (energy cost reduction and RHI benefit) will reduce the overall payback of the project.
The non-domestic RHI is set to close from 1st April 2021, so this may be the last chance to get Salix funded renewable heat installations for your site.
Can I apply for both SEEF funding and income from the Smart Export Guarantee?
If you plan to oversize your Solar PV installation to take advantage of additional exporting revenue under the Smart Export Guarantee, Salix will only provide finance for the proportion of the installation that tackles onsite energy consumption. So – you will need to finance the revenue-making proportion of the installation yourself.
My school isn’t an academy – can I get Salix funding too?
Yes – there is a separate interest-free funding stream for maintained schools and sixth form colleges, which is available throughout the year (you can find more details on the Salix website, or get in touch with us for advice).
Salix was set up to support public sector organisations of all types, and there are funding streams for local authorities, emergency services, NHS trusts and higher and further education facilities too.
Can I get help with my SEEF application?
Yes – consultants and technology suppliers can complete the application on your behalf. You may also wish to seek advice on which technologies will deliver the greatest savings and the best payback.
At Concept we’ve helped many schools successfully apply for Salix funding, and because we’re not tied to a single technology, we’re able to recommend the most cost-effective technology for each school site.
Our experienced project managers oversee the implementation of energy efficiency projects involving a range of technologies, including LED upgrades, renewables installations, and Building Management System upgrades.
If you would like impartial advice on SEEF funding or reducing your energy costs, get in touch.