News came through to us of an initiative from the Carbon Trust involving interest-free loans for retail SMEs so that they can replace inefficient and power hungry equipment with brand new, carbon friendly stuff. It's a trend that's catching on in all sorts of ways.
The Carbon Trust is saying that Â£100m in loans is available, in trenches of between Â£3,000 and Â£400,000 to 5,000 retailers in the hope of saving the sector Â£41m in annual energy costs.
The loans are available for three types of equipment â€" heating, lighting and refrigeration.
I like this initiative for a number of reasons:
This is just the sort of shot in the arm that this vulnerable sector needs right now. It frees up capital expenditure they can spend in other ways and provides them with free credit at a time when acquiring credit is painfully difficult from other sources.
At the same time, it allows small retail organisations to upgrade their stores so that they can remain current in a time when otherwise they would be falling behind bigger rivals in terms of store refitting.
It also provides a counterpoint to other environmental lobbyists pushing for tougher sanctions on businesses who don't do something to reduce their carbon footprint. By helping these businesses reduce their power consumption, it's positively reinforcing the benefits of energy efficiency.
It's quite a fluffy story, but it's also part of a quietly growing trend for schemes around replacing old equipment with new. Mostly they have been around encouraging consumers to replace old possessions like cars or white goods. The main object is to stimulate the economy, but there is also an environmental payoff by removing inefficient power guzzlers. Although, the Carbon Trust initiative is exclusively a business loan, so consumers don't directly benefit, it does seek to do both those things.
Other recent moves in this direction have been the BRC calling for a scrappage scheme on white goods and an ad campaign from Sony -- but without any government input this time -- featuring Alice Cooper, to encourage people to turn in their old TVs for a new one at a discount.