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European Investment Bank to fund UK smart meter rush

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The European Investment Bank (EIB) is to part-fund the UK’s push to install smart meters in every home and business by 2020.

The government has outlined plans to roll out smart meters across the UK before the turn of the decade but is woefully behind, having installed just 1.3 million of the expected 53 million smart meters required to date.

But the EIB has now agreed to back the roll out – estimated to cost around £1 billion – with a £360 million investment brokered alongside six major commercial banks including Barclays, Credit Agricole, Santander, HSBC, Sumitomo Mitsui and Tokyo-Mitsubishi/Infracapital.

The roll-out is to be managed by gas and electricity meter management firm Calvin Capital and individual units will be distributed to consumers through their energy suppliers.

The secured investment is to help fuel a mass roll-out of the meters beginning next year, echoing sentiments raised by energy minister Lord Bourne last month while discussing an impending acceleration of the programme, calling 2016 a “crucial year” for smart meters.

Jim Macdonald, chief executive at Calvin Capital, said that the investment marked a “significant step” for the company, adding that the new finance had allowed it to develop flexible funding solutions to meet consumer requirements.

Backing for the roll-out has been received by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), and it will be the largest project supported by the EFSI to date. EFSI was established by the EIB and the European Commission earlier this year to increase access to funding for “crucial projects” in renewable energy, digital infrastructure, transport and R&D sectors.

Jonathan Taylor, European Investment Bank vice president, praised the potential for the programme to cut carbon emissions. “This programme provides a benchmark for similar smart meter schemes across Europe in the future,” he added.

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