Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme Phase 3c: Portal to Open at 2pm on 7th November

Following technical difficulties on 10th October, Salix Finance will be reopening the Phase 3c Application Portal for all applications on Tuesday 7th November, 2023 at 2pm

As published in July, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has made £230 million available in 2024/25 with a similar budget for 2025/26 to be announced this autumn.

To find out more about Phase 3c of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, click here.

If you are interested in submitting an application to Phase 3c of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, and would like help with your application, please contact us at ReEnergise. We can provide technical support and advise on crafting the language for the application form, increasing your chance of success.

Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme: Phase 3c Announced by Salix Finance (PSDS3c)

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme provides grants for public sector bodies to fund heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency measures. Phase 3c has made £230 million available in 2024/25 with additional budget for financial year 2025/26 to enable projects to be delivered over two years. The application window for Phase 3c is expected to open in October 2023. (Date to be confirmed shortly.)


To find out more about Phase 3c of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, click here.


If you are interested in submitting an application to Phase 3c of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, and would like help with your application, please contact us at ReEnergise. We can provide technical support, plus advice on crafting the language in the various application boxes, increasing your chance of a successful application.

Podcast: Nigel Demystifies Estate Decarbonisation on the ISBA Bursarcast

In a recent episode of the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association (ISBA) Bursarcast, Nigel was invited to take part in a discussion about school estate decarbonisation. The 35-minute podcast aims to dispel common myths and misconceptions, help bursars understand what to prioritise when looking at net-zero as a whole, and highlight the biggest carbon emitters found on the typical school estate.

Throughout the discussion, what became clear is that the most practical first step to decarbonising a school’s estate, is to procure an estate decarbonisation plan (EDP). This holistic approach to net-zero, allows a school to identify its carbon emitters and financially plan for infrastructure upgrades, with particular attention given to heat projects which are the most effective in carbon reduction, but the most expensive. This part of the ReEnergise risk-reduction process ensures that a school will only proceed on projects when it makes sense to do so, which ensures no regrets later down the line.

To find out more, listen to the ISBA podcast in full here:

Phase 4 Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund: Portal to Open at 2pm on 26th April

Salix Finance has announced that Phase 4 of the Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund (Phase 4 LCSF) will be open for applications on Wednesday 26th April at 2pm. The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has set aside £17 million with the goal being to best prepare public sector bodies for the next round of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, later in the year.

For this round of LCSF, there are three funding options:

  1. Funding to develop or improve a heat decarbonisation plan incorporating any output outlined in the scheme criteria section.
  1. Develop standalone detailed design(s) from pre-existing heat decarbonisation plan(s).
  1. A combination of options one and two above, to develop or improve a heat decarbonisation plan(s) and develop a standalone detailed design(s) from a pre-existing heat decarbonisation plan(s).

The HDP Purpose

As per Salix’s announcement, the purpose of acquiring an HDP is as follows, “[an HDP] will help organisations to think more strategically about decarbonisation opportunities, and work through the planning lifecycle up to and including the development of detailed project proposals that are cost effective, aligned with their organisational decarbonisation strategy, and ready to be funded, including through an application for other grant funding schemes.”

The Funds

In an effort to provide the opportunity for funding to be allocated to a wider range of projects, a funding cap has been introduced, dividing the £17 million into three grant value ranges (including an overall grant value cap of £1,000,000):

  • 34% of funding for projects up to £100,000.
  • 38% of funding for projects between £100,001-£500,000.
  • 28% of funding for projects between £500,001-£1,000,000.

To date, grants have been used to pay for plans in full, meaning no client contribution is required. This remains the case for Phase 4 LCSF.

Key Dates

  • Early April – Applicants to register on Salix LCSF4 website. (We can register as well, as consultants. Needs to be done on an individual basis. But we can’t submit grant apps on behalf of clients).
  • 26th April at 2pm – Portal opens. It is critical that applications are submitted as soon after 2pm as possible otherwise the chances are the budget will already be oversubscribed. Therefore, early prep is essential well before 26 April.
  • From June – Grant Offer Letters (GOL) being issued.
  • By 14th July – All GOLs awarded.
  • 28 March 2024 – All grants to be spent.

In Autumn 2023, PSDS3c is expected to be similarly announced, with the main focus being heat decarbonisation, but the scheme will also pay for related capital works that are necessary to enable the heat decarbonisation to be done cost-effectively.

If you are interested in submitting an application to Phase 4 LCSF, please contact us at ReEnergise. We will provide free technical support to grant applications, plus advice on crafting the language in the various application boxes, increasing your chance of a successful application.

To read the full Salix Finance Phase 4 LCSF announcement, click here.

ReEnergise Attends the AGBIS Annual Conference and the GSHPA Members Day

Doubling up for the first shows of the year: two events, two days, and two ReEnergise employees. At the end of March, Nigel and Ollie attended both the AGBIS Annual Conference and the inaugural GSHPA Member’s Day.

At the AGBIS Annual Conference, Nigel and Ollie had the opportunity to speak with many independent school governors who were keen to learn how their respective schools could reduce their carbon emissions. It was very encouraging to see how engaged school governors are on such an important topic, and many were interested to understand how a school starts its net-zero journey. They were therefore able to discuss decarbonisation plans, and why this is the best place to start. Nigel held a breakout session where he delivered the first presentation of his three-part series titled ‘How to be a Net-Zero Savvy Governor.’ Part 2 is coming up soon, and the ReEnergise team is looking forward to holding a practical session on the 11th May at St George’s, Weybridge.

The GSHPA Members Day was equally enlightening, with various panels discussing the intricacies of ground source heat pumps. Across 4 talks, they heard from experts who spoke on the best application of these systems. Nigel was part of a discussion panel and shared his insight into why some schools are wary of heat pumps: how horror stories from other schools can result in unfortunate misunderstandings. In reality, a ground source heat pump can bring plenty of long-term savings if implemented correctly and appropriately.

This is where ReEnergise comes in. We can assist with seeing the wood for the trees and ensure that your school makes the right decisions when it comes to decarbonisation. Our team can guide you through every step of the process, from the initial benchmarking and the technically choreographed estate decarbonisation plan, right up to project managing the installation.

Overall, it was a week full of insightful conversations and interesting talks. It will be great to see everyone attending the Education Estates Net-Zero Conference next month!

The April 2023 Energy Bills Discount Scheme. What do Schools Need to Know?

Out with the old, in with the new. On the 1st April, the Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) ended, and non-domestic energy contracts have automatically been moved onto the newly announced Energy Bill Discount Scheme (EBDS). This means that any school who signed their energy contract on/after the 1stDecember 2021 were already be on the EBRS and therefore have transitioned to the EBDS. Unlike its predecessor, the EBDS will instead run for 12 months (until March 2024), rather than 6.

However, despite their similar names, the EBDS is much less akin to the outgoing EBRS.

The important thing to remember is that this is no longer an energy price cap, rather a discount on energy unit rates.  This does unfortunately mean that the EBDS is far less supportive for schools. Despite this, it is still important to understand the new scheme in order to budget effectively in the new financial year. Here is how the EBDS works:

From April, your electricity bill discount is now limited to 1.961p per kWh, with a minimum price threshold of 30.2p per kWh, and your gas bill discount, limited to 0.697p per kWh, with a price threshold of 10.7p per kWh. If your unit rate is less than these thresholds, you will not be eligible for the discount.

It is important to note that the final per unit price paid by non-domestic customers will differ since it will also reflect other costs such as network charges and operating costs, plus the impact of competition between suppliers.

To find out more, visit:

Nigel A-F talks to a client at the Schools and Academies Show

Last Thursday evening marked the round-up of the Schools and Academies Show at the NEC in which, over the space of one fast-paced day, Nigel and Ollie were able to have some interesting conversations with delegates from all over the country about their schools’ future net-zero objectives. It was exciting to speak to so many engaged schools about their ambition to either begin or continue with their decarbonisation journey. Conversations spanned from how ReEnergise is able to assist with government funding applications, such as PSDS and LCSF, right up to arranging Teams meetings to kick-off discussions for full estate decarbonisation plans (EDPs). We look forward to getting in touch with those we have already had the pleasure of speaking to and can’t wait to be back again next year.

The week prior, ReEnergise also held a stand at the ISBL conference and similarly enjoyed some engaging talks with school business leaders on how ReEnergise can assist with the development of estate decarbonisation plans and help schools on their path towards net-zero. Nigel and Ollie were pleased to have many meaningful conversations and reassure delegates that ReEnergise is here to help make sense of it all.

An over-arching theme in the discussions with delegates was that schools are obviously keen to move towards net-zero, however, they are less sure how to begin the process. As it so happens, Nigel held a talk in October in which he discovered during a live poll, that 69% of respondents were in the exact same headspace. Why not check out Nigel’s full presentation on the topic

Now couldn’t be a better time to get in touch with ReEnergise, establish your current situation, and book a talk to begin developing an estate decarbonisation plan for your school.

HMC/IAPS Enlightened Education Conference Highlights

“Net-Zero? Yes, I’m keen; but what does this mean for my school?”

Earlier this month, Nigel held a session at the HMC/IAPS Enlightened Education conference in Edinburgh to discuss exactly this.

In his live poll, 69% of the attending Head Masters said they were interested in Net-Zero but had little grasp of what it meant for their school. If this is relatable, Nigel’s Keynote is guaranteed to bring you great value. You can watch it in full and access our latest case study below.

Keynote Overview Interview with Nigel Aylwin-Foster (2 min watch)


HMC/IAPS Enlightened Education Conference Keynote Presentation (1 hour)


St George’s College – A ReEnergise Case Study (4 min watch)

Now is the perfect time to get in touch with ReEnergise, evaluate your school’s current situation, and generate an Estate Decarbonisation Plan (EDP).

Contact us on [email protected]

Ground Source Heat Pump installation at St George’s College Weybridge

PRESS RELEASE – February 10th 2022

Borehole drilling is completed at 900 kW ground source heat pump installation at St George’s College Weybridge

As part of its Zero-Carbon Schools initiative, managing contractor ReEnergise is transforming the carbon footprint of St George’s College Weybridge in Surrey, installing four Viessmann heat pumps 

Initial groundworks have been completed at a large heat pump installation at St George’s College Weybridge in Surrey. In late January, the sole remaining drilling machine made the last of 132 boreholes in fields that will be returned to use as sports pitches and for outdoor events.

Now follows the installation of four 230 kW Viessmann Vitocal 300-G Pro ground source heat pumps, which replace the school’s previous gas heating system as the main heat generator in an adapted plant room in the college’s Kean Building complex. Once commissioned, the new heating system will save about 250 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The managing contractor for the project is ReEnergise – architects and enablers of net-zero plans and programmes specialising in schools and colleges. ReEnergise designed the solution in collaboration with St George’s College Weybridge and in particular, Estate Manager, Errol Minihan, who is spearheading a future-proof approach to reducing the school’s reliance on fossil fuels and introducing a sustainable technology solution.

Steve Faucherand, CEO of ReEnergise, said, “It’s a pleasure to work with St George’s College Weybridge, who are always forward thinking and have been on the low-carbon journey for some time.  This is a major investment in zero-carbon technology that will give them options as they develop the College estate. We are already working with them to maximise the benefit of the system and increase its sustainability by utilising its capability to cool classrooms in the summer and return excess heat to the ground.”

St George’s College Weybridge was founded in 1869 and is an independent Catholic co-educational day school for 11-18 year olds with around 1,000 students. Mrs Owens, Headmistress, said: “Students have thoroughly enjoyed learning about renewable energy and how natural heat from the ground can be harnessed. We now can’t wait to have our new ground source heat pumps operational, so that we can know heating the school and using hot water here is from energy generated in a completely renewable way.”

The Viessmann heat pumps will be installed by Aston Cord Energy Services who have also prefabricated the 10” internal diameter distribution header into which the borehole loops and the heat pumps will be connected. Doing this work offsite ensures high quality, minimises disruption and keeps logistics to a minimum.

The borehole drilling at St George’s College Weybridge has been undertaken by Oxfordshire-based AW Synergy, with the rest of the groundworks being handled by K Watts Construction and the school’s dedicated grounds people. Powercor is managing the electrical works.

The Zero-Carbon Schools initiative was started by Steve Faucherand, CEO, and the team at ReEnergise, due to their passion for creating a greener environment for future generations. The team actively promotes the national net-zero agenda, within the industry and in the classroom, and are currently supporting 50 schools and colleges to optimise projects at various stages of the decarbonisation process.

February 10th 2022

Government Net-Zero Policy for Heat and Buildings on School Estates


This article is an update on recent UK Government policy developments regarding net-zero, especially concerning the heating of buildings. The purpose is to highlight those issues that will most influence what independent schools need to be doing over the next few years.

UK national policy remains to achieve net-zero by 2050. This is enshrined in legislation. (Interesting nugget: at the time of writing the UK Government was facing legal action by ClientEarth for failing to have included enough measures in the most recent round of policy papers to be on track to achieve net-zero by 2050).

There is also now an interim target of reducing emissions by 78% by 2035, based on 1990 levels. This was introduced in 2019. The purpose of that interim target is to encourage a steady reduction in emissions and avoid the UK leaving it all to the last minute.

Issued Policy Documents

Three long-awaited policy documents were issued in October 2021. These are:

  • The Heat & Buildings Strategy: lays out how the UK’s domestic buildings and non-domestic sites are to be rendered net-zero. The latter includes school estates.
  • The Net-Zero Strategy: lays out how the UK is to achieve net-zero across all forms of energy usage and carbon emissions.
  • The Treasury’s Net-Zero Review: lays out how all the above is to be supported and balanced financially.

The government has also started issuing consultation documents to explore the detail of how best to implement the intended policy. Note that it is the consultations that are often the more important part of the legislative cycle, because good intentions can founder on difficult details. The consultation now under review of most relevance to the Independent Education Sector concerns the implementation of legislation for sites off the gas-grid. This is considered one of the most pressing issues in government circles, partly because sites off the gas grid are usually burning coal, oil, or LPG for heating and certainly the first two are high carbon emitters. The other factor is that the government is already clear about the technology options for sites off the gas grid, whereas it is still hedging its bets for technology options on the gas grid.

Main Policy Points

These three documents amounted to some 1000 pages of detail. It’s quite a tall order to distill all that into digestible nuggets, but the section below is an attempt to do that. Note that this is just the headlines: analysis and comment is in the next section of the article.

Underlying Philosophy in UK Policy:

  • The 2020s will be key to delivering a step change in progress.
  • The UK needs to intensify efforts to eliminate emissions from buildings: heat decarbonisation is the hardest task, within the built environment.
  • The UK should avoid rushing into acts which may make the situation worse in the longer term; or may close off options that later turn out to be useful. Conversely, the UK now needs to accelerate ‘low- and no-regrets’ action.
  • Fairness and affordability is to be at the heart of the UK approach.
  • The UK should use the natural replacement cycle to phase out fossil fuel plant. This means that there will be no forced removal of existing heating plant: instead, from a declared operational target date, as replacements fall due the outgoing plant will have to be replaced by a low-carbon alternative.

Operational Targets:

  • From 2024: to phase out the installation of fossil fuel plant off the gas grid. Rural schools take note! There are nuances but in principle this means that any oil or LPG plant that needs to be replaced beyond that date will need to be replaced by a low-carbon alternative.
  • From 2025: all new buildings in England to be ready for Net-Zero.
  • By 2026: the government will take strategic decisions on the role of hydrogen in heating.
  • By 2028: whatever the role for hydrogen, the electrification of heating plant will be widespread, with a target of 600,000 heat pumps deployed per year for the domestic market.
  • From 2030: end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.
  • From 2035: phase out the installation of new natural gas boilers.
  • By 2035: the national power grid is to be net-zero, subject to security of supply.

Financing the Transition. The UK will endeavour to:

  • Use market forces to drive change, but with some carrot and stick.
  • Invest now, to drive innovation, build up the supply chain, and drive down costs.
  • Rebalance energy prices so that heat pumps are no more expensive to buy and run than gas boilers. (This will also help the business case for sites running on oil and LPG, but in national policy terms the main concern is actually the disparity between grid gas and grid power prices).
  • Lead by example in the public sector estate, through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS).
  • Offer financial incentives for early adopters in the domestic market.
  • Require the commercial sector to pay its own way, based on the principle that ‘the polluter pays’.
  • Use Building Regulations and other legislation to drive improved building efficiency.
  • Make increased use of carbon taxing.

Analysis & Comment

Heating is the Hardest Part. The government recognises that for most buildings, including clusters such as school estates, the major technical and financial challenge is to convert the provision of heating and hot water to low-carbon alternatives. Comment. We would agree. Having now considered the conversion of many school estates in some detail, in ReEnergise, we have found that it is always the heating that provides the main technical and financial challenge, along with those changes to the power supply that are usually necessary to make the new heating system viable.

Technology for Heat: heat pumps preferred. Government policy now states that heat pumps are preferred to biomass, as an option for low-carbon heat generation, because in net terms heat pumps generate less pollution and greenhouse gas emissions than biomass. Comment. Note that heat pumps generate no emissions at source. When the heat pumps are driven by renewably sourced power, be it via an appropriate grid supply contract or via local on-site generation, the overall system is net-zero.

Biomass by Exception. The government notes that some buildings may need to be heated by biomass because of their poor thermal properties and the related high flow temperatures that the heating plant needs to provide. Comment. A cause of some heated discussion in engineering circles. Some heat pumps can achieve similar flow temperatures to combustion-based heating plant, e.g, 70 degrees C (or higher). However, these high-temperature machines are more expensive to install than their more widespread lower-temperature counterparts. Ultimately the choice between heat pumps and biomass in schools is often driven by local constraints of a more pragmatic nature, such as space available; and, of course, the available budget.

Role of Hydrogen. The government has stated that it intends to make strategic decisions about the role of hydrogen in the national net-zero plan, by 2026. Comment. Given the wealth of material to be considered, and the extent of conflicting vested interests on the supplier side, it is not surprising that the government has declined to commit to a firm plan at this stage. That said, the clear consensus amongst the majority of impartial experts on the supplier side is that hydrogen will not play a major role in the heating of buildings in the UK. It will play a major role in net-zero, but primarily in those situations where there is no other more cost-effective alternative available. This could include bulk transportation and will certainly continue to include manufacturing processes, where hydrogen is already a key player. Don’t be fooled by media reports about village trials for delivering hydrogen in the gas-main (e.g. Winlaton in County Durham). These are trials of hydrogen being blended with natural gas, at a proportion of not more than 20%, and most reports fail to point out that this is not actually ‘green’ (zero-carbon) hydrogen; nor that the calorific value of the fuel is lower and that bills will need to rise to achieve the same heating levels. The nub of the issue is that there is still a developmental and commercial mountain to climb before we get anywhere near extensive use of clean hydrogen for heating buildings. I would not bet on it; nor would I build a school net-zero strategy based on it.

Domestic Market (included here because we’re all home-owners; and school estates usually also have some domestic staff premises). The government will offer financial incentives to encourage the conversion of domestic premises, whilst incentives remain necessary because of the higher price of the low-carbon alternatives. The intent and hope is that the price differential will rapidly decline, through innovation, mass production, and a marked increase in the supplier/installer base. Initially, price parity will be achieved through grants, under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme which launches in April 2022. Those grants are set to be £5000 for a new domestic scale air source heat pump (ASHP) and £6000 for a new domestic scale ground source heat pump (GSHP). Comment. For many homes, which are suitable targets for ASHP, that cost-reduction outcome is probable. Octopus Energy, a fast-growing energy supplier that is branching out into various conversion markets, has already stated that by April 2022 it expects to offer conversion from gas boilers to ASHPs for the domestic market at the same price as merely installing a new gas boiler, once the government grant has been factored in. However, the same outcome is unlikely to be achieved for housing requiring a GSHP. GSHP projects entail significant groundworks: the groundworks often account for about half the overall cost in a domestic setting and there is nothing in the marketplace currently to indicate that groundworks will become much cheaper. If anything, groundworks could rise in price. Note also that by implication the grants will not be available for long.

Public Sector. The government will also allocate funding for the conversion of the public sector estate. This is being done by means of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) which will provide some £billions of funds over the coming years. The PSDS has now been operating for over a year and is on its third tranche of funding. It is now configured so that it covers the price differential between the outgoing fossil fuel plant and the low-carbon alternative. Comment. Unfortunately this funding is not available for the Independent Sector schools.

Commercial Sector. In contrast, the government will not allocate significant financial support to the conversion of the commercial sector. Instead, the policy will largely shift from carrot to stick. The current subsidy system for the commercial sector – known as the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) – is already drawing to a close and has not been open to new entrants since April 2020. There will not be an RHI phase 2: commercial buildings will all eventually be required to be converted, through regulation. Comment. Independent schools sit in the commercial sector, in this context, even though most are also registered charities. The thrust of this policy is that independent schools will have to finance the required capital outlay from their own resources, in the same way that new-builds and other estate developments are funded.

Timescales for Conversion. Recognising that the conversion of heating nationally represents a huge transitional financial burden – whether paid for by grants or met by corporate commercial entities from their own funds – the phasing out of fossil fuel plant will be done using the natural lifecycle of existing plant. In other words, no existing fossil fuel plant will have to be removed before its end of life; but from a certain date, when fossil fuel plant fails or has reached the end of its useful economic life, owners will no longer be permitted to replace that plant with like-for-like new fossil fuel plant: it will have to be done using a low-carbon alternative. For sites currently connected to the gas grid that cut-off date is currently set at 2035; for sites off the gas grid that date is from as soon as 2024, depending on size of buildings. Likewise, new-builds will not be allowed to incorporate fossil fuel plant, whether on or off the gas grid: in theory from 2025. Comment. The off-grid policy is in principle as previously briefed by ReEnergise, although it remains to be seen if the cut-off date of 2024 will stand once the current consultation has been reviewed. But even if it slips a bit, it is imminent in strategic terms.

Summary of the Key Implications for Independent Schools

This is a long-term business, which could take at least a decade for most schools: probably more.

It’s no longer a question of if a school will choose to decarbonise the estate, but when it will need to do it.

The domestic market will be shielded to some extent, financially; but there will be no significant financial support for the conversion of school estates.

The driving factor on school estates is the conversion of the heating; plus the work on power needed to enable the heating to be converted.

For schools off the gas grid it is imperative to draw up a decarbonisation plan urgently, if not already done. But it would also be prudent for schools on the gas grid to draw up their decarbonisation plan sooner rather than later: it will avoid a financial shock in later years.

Given the nature of most school estates, the most cost-effective design concept for the conversion to low-carbon heating is likely to be based around the installation of a district heating system. The implication is that from the moment when one item of major plant requires replacement, that school will have to face up to a major project, i.e. the installation of a district heating infrastructure – even if not all buildings are put onto the district in the first instance.

Current project prices – at the scale required for schools – are unlikely to reduce significantly. In practice, they may well rise. Schools should plan and budget accordingly.

The net effect in strategic terms is that for the next two decades the conversion of a school’s heating plant has become akin to undertaking a new-build in terms of physical and financial scale. It will need to be given due consideration within the school’s development plan. Once the new low-carbon estate infrastructure has been established then the funding of further next generation replacement plant – in the timeframe 2050 and beyond – will be of the same order of magnitude as it has been in the fossil fuel era, because the plant itself is not particularly expensive. But the transition at some point between now and 2050 will be expensive and intrusive, because it entails developing the required infrastructure.

Nigel Aylwin-Foster is a director at ReEnergise. If any reader needs further advice about the points raised in this update please contact him direct. [email protected]