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Federal government launches energy-efficiency grants

Small and medium businesses across Australia can now apply for grants of up to $25,000 to improve energy efficiency, save on energy bills and bring down emissions.

The grants can be used for a wide range of activities, such as upgrading or replacing existing air conditioners with high-efficiency units, or replacing gas heating boilers with heat pumps.

Other activities supported through the program include energy audits of business sites, and investment in energy-monitoring systems.

Round 1 of the grants offers $16 million of the total $62 million budget for the program. The new grants will be allocated to states and territories based on the distributions of small and medium businesses nationally.

Expert Group director Peter Brodribb, M.AIRAH, says that having a national scheme for energy efficiency grants is a step in the right direction.

“The state-based rebate schemes in Victoria and New South Wales have been extremely influential in driving the uptake of energy-efficient equipment in commercial refrigeration,” he says. “They have also created a compliance obligation for electricity generators to offset the CO2 they produce by buying certificates, which has placed a price on carbon and assisted with the transition to a lower intensity grid.

“The new national program will provide other states such as Queensland and Western Australia with some much-needed help for energy-efficiency projects. In the current inflationary environment with high energy costs, this program will be invaluable in helping businesses review upgrade opportunities, reduce costs and remain competitive.”

Brodribb notes that many of the eligible activities are related to HVAC&R.

“It’s great news for our industry,” he says. “Commercial refrigeration and air conditioning are energy-intensive tasks, and the grant provides an excellent opportunity for SME retail organisations seeking to cut their operating costs by upgrading old inefficient equipment.

“Eligible activities include installing VSDs, retrofitting glass doors on open refrigerated cases, replacing old cases with new high-efficiency refrigerated cases, retrofitting EEVs and upgrading insulation on coldrooms, which I believe will all see good uptake with the grant.”

According to Brodribb, timing will also be important for grant applicants.

“Entities that apply for a grant cannot start the works until they have an executed grant agreement,” he says. “The project works then have to be completed between June 2023 and June 2024.

“If these timings don’t suit, the current grants are only round one of the program. It’s anticipated there will be other opportunities with subsequent rounds.”

Applications for the grants will close on April 19, 2023, or when funding is exhausted.

For more information about the Energy Efficiency Grants for SMEs program, visit business.gov.au/eegsme

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