A new grants program to help small and medium hotels improve the energy efficiency of their venues has been labelled a “win” for both the industry and the environment.
The Hotel Energy Uplift Program was first announced in the lead up to the 2020 Federal Budget, as part of a $1.9 billion funding package earmarked by the federal government for ‘emerging technologies’.
The program allows small and medium businesses to apply for grants of between $10,000 and $25,000 to be spent on “energy-saving projects”, such as replacing or improving air conditioning or refrigeration products, windows or insulation.
The grants can also be used to invest in monitoring systems to allow business owners to better manage their energy use.
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At least 400 grants will be offered to hotels, motels and serviced apartments that have up to 99 rooms available to be booked by members of the public on a nightly basis.
Applications will open later this month and businesses will be required to complete their project by June 30, 2022.
Michael Johnson, chief executive of Tourism Accommodation Australia, says the grants will provide a “welcome boost” for SMEs trying to recover from the worst year the travel accommodation industry has ever experienced.
“Energy costs have become one of the largest ongoing expenses for many hotels regardless of how well or how poorly a hotel is operating,” he tells SmartCompany.
The grants will help businesses reduce their energy costs and carbon footprints, says Johnson, and have the flow-on effect of creating work for tradespeople and suppliers.
“It is a win for the industry, for the environment and will help create jobs for trades involved in the upgrades,” he says.
In a statement, Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the grants will provide a “significant boost” to regional areas, where 80% of small and medium hotels are located.
The federal government’s $1.9 billion ‘emerging technologies’ package also included $95.4 million for a technology co-investment fund to support businesses in the agriculture, manufacturing, industrial and transport sectors, and $50 million for a carbon capture use and storage development fund.
The bulk of the funding — $1.62 billion — will be provided to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to invest, however, the government is seeking to expand the remit of ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to no longer only support or invest in renewable and clean energy technologies.
Applications for the Hotel Energy Uplift Program will open on February 24, 2021, and close by April 1, 2021, at the latest. Guidelines for the program are available online.