Energy efficiency

GIB launches new loan product to finance the UK’s switch to low energy streetlighting

04 Feb 2014



Across the UK our seven million streetlights clock up an electricity bill of more than £300 million each year.

Although this is one of a local authority's largest single costs, fewer than one million lamps are low energy. The legacy of this old technology is higher than necessary energy consumption, costs and environmental impact.

However, help is now available for Local Authorities to make the switch to low energy streetlights with the launch of a new Green Loan from the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB).

The new product from GIB offers UK local authorities a low, fixed rate loan over a period of up to 20 years.

Local Authorities deciding to make the switch to low energy streetlights will have a short payback period on their investment; as early as five years. After that, they will be able to enjoy a reduction in their electricity bill of up to 80 per cent. Streetlighting can account for as much as 30 per cent of a local authority's energy consumption.

There are significant environmental savings too - the electricity used by UK streetlights produces 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year, which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of 674,000 households and the emissions of 330,000 cars on the road.

GIB is working with Glasgow City Council to be the first recipient of a Green Loan, supporting the City in its plans to convert its 70,000 streetlights to low energy. [Pictured above left to right: UK Green Investment Bank Chair Lord Smith of Kelvin, Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael and Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council]

GIB has £3.8 billion of funding from the UK Government to help the UK's economy become greener and stronger and sees energy efficiency measures including LED streetlighting at the heart of a low carbon economy.

The Green Loan has been specifically designed to finance public sector energy efficiency projects, ensuring that repayments are made from within savings. The product can also include a development loan to help Local Authorities with the costs of progressing their plans.

UK Green Investment Bank chief executive, Shaun Kingsbury, explained:

Bad lighting does not come cheap, it carries an electricity bill which can be cut by up to 80 per cent with a move to low energy, LED lighting.  Making the switch saves councils money, increases community safety and dramatically reduces the UK's carbon footprint. The GIB Green Loan is essentially a corporate loan facility that covers the set-up, capital investment and installation costs of lighting upgrades to LED, with repayments being made from within forecast savings.  Put more simply, local authorities borrow money from the Green Investment Bank, but repay the loan entirely through the money they save by changing their lighting.

Business Secretary, Vince Cable said:

Once again the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) is leading the way in the green revolution. Street lighting across Britain tends to be very costly and energy inefficient, emitting the same amount of carbon dioxide each year as a quarter of a million cars on the road. This investment by GIB into new LED technology could make big strides in saving money for local councils and reducing our carbon footprint. I urge councils across the country to follow Glasgow City Council's lead and GIB's new Green Loan can help speed up the take up of this streetlighting.

So far through the Green Investment Bank - the first of its kind in the world - we have invested more than £750 million in energy projects which are driving innovation and our plans for green growth. For every £1 the bank has invested, £3 has been raised from the private sector for projects in areas ranging from offshore wind to waste to energy efficiency products.

Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said:

My vision is to make Glasgow one of Europe's most sustainable cities. It is our goal to improve energy efficiency, cut carbon emissions and generate savings for the public purse. Glasgow City Council is not only creating a digital and low carbon route out of recession with social justice at its heart, but also ensuring Glasgow is one of Europe's most sustainable cities. Glasgow is leading the way in meeting existing challenges head on to become a smarter, more intelligent city. One of our current measures is set to see us become the first local authority to receive a Green Investment Bank loan as we work towards further embracing low energy streetlighting.

The Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael said:

I am absolutely delighted that Glasgow is leading by example in its drive to become a greener, smarter city, and that the UK Green Investment Bank - headquartered in Edinburgh and funded by £3.8bn of UK Government money - is playing such a positive role in supporting it. This is a product of the expert team of the UK GIB in Edinburgh and London working with Glasgow City Council with their understanding of local needs and opportunities. I hope that other local authorities will follow Glasgow's lead and explore how they can work with the UK GIB to improve all our local communities.


Notes to editors

The UK Green Investment Bank began operations in November 2012. Created by the UK Government and capitalised with £3.8 billion of public money, its mission is to help the UK transition to a greener economy by supporting projects that are both green and commercial. One of GIB's priority areas for investment is public sector energy efficiency.

GIB can provide the full spectrum of financing across debt and equity with the ability to fund long tenor. It has a dedicated team of energy efficiency project and finance experts set-up to work with private and public sector organisations and co-investors.