Luxembourg — (METERING.COM) — November 18, 2011 – Irish utility ESB has signed a new €235 million loan with the European Investment Bank to support the development of a smart metering and smart grid program for the country.
The loan, which will provide 50 percent funding for an investment program of €470 million, will be delivered to ESB Networks over 2 years.
The program includes the technical design phase of a national smart metering program, which was announced by the country’s regulator Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) earlier this week.
The program also includes key projects to enhance transmission and distribution links from wind farms and to improve the efficiency and capability of the electricity networks to facilitate greater integration of renewable energy sources. Also the initial phase of installation of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles across Ireland is included, with 1,500 on-street charging points and 2,000 domestic chargers.
“ESB has invested more than €6 billion in the electricity networks over the past 10 years, and we now have a very modern and robust network infrastructure,” said ESB chief executive, Padraig McManus. “This next phase of investment will enable ESB Networks to handle the anticipated increased wind generation, as well as progressing our smart metering and electric vehicle infrastructure programs.”
Specific components of the program include the provision of over 270 km of new high voltage lines to reinforce existing transmission links from the southwest, west and northwest of Ireland, which has significant wind generation capacity, to the main population centers in the east. In addition, the capacity of more than 8,000 km of rural networks will be doubled and 140 km of new distribution lines will be installed in Connemara, Co. Galway to relieve voltage problems in the region.