EBRD May Lend Energa $251 Million for Polish Smart Grid Project

The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development is considering loaning Polish utility Energa SA as much as 800 million zloty ($251 million) for a smart grid project, a “step change” in investment in the region, an analyst said.

The EBRD’s board approved the loan with a term of as much as 15 years though it hasn’t been signed yet, according to a June 11 posting on the bank’s website. The planned upgrades to Energa’s distribution network may cost 5.2 billion zloty, including installation of advanced metering infrastructure that’ll improve energy efficiency and facilitate interconnection of more renewable energy, the London-based lender said.

Energa plans to add 434 megawatts of renewable energy generating capacity by 2015, and the utility plans to deploy smart meters for all of its customers to help Poland comply with a European Union requirement that 80 percent of the country’s electricity consumers have them by 2020, according to the EBRD.

“This is intended to have a positive effect on the expansion of the renewable energy market by increasing grid connection capacity,” the bank said.

The Polish smart metering market may be worth as much as $2.8 billion by 2020 as it seeks to meet the European directive, Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Colin McKerracher said today by e-mail. Energa controls about 17 percent of Poland’s distribution grid, and while some of the utility’s investment will go toward traditional grid upgrades, “this does signify a step change in the level of smart grid investment in the region.”

Energa is in discussions with the European Investment Bank on “potential parallel financing” for the project, according to the EBRD.

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