EBRD to trigger investments of up to €15 billion in energy efficiency, renewables in eastern Europe

By Anthony Williams

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The EBRD is to trigger investments in sustainable energy projects worth up to €15 billion in the next three years in its drive to finance the development of new sources of clean energy and to reduce energy wastage throughout eastern Europe.

The Bank’s own investments in sustainable energy projects through 2011 of between €3 and €5 billion are expected to attract further co-financing of up to €10 billion.

The EBRD has already invested close to €3 billion under its Sustainable Energy Initiative that was launched three years ago.

However, countries in the EBRD region continue to grapple with the legacy of cheap energy that made wastage an endemic problem. They remain the most energy intensive economies in the world when measured by carbon emissions per unit of GDP. The potential for further reductions remains huge.

The EBRD’s strategy to help mitigate the impact of climate change is to attack this widespread energy wastage with energy efficiency projects but also to tap new sustainable sources of energy via investments in renewables.

Reducing energy wastage has the additional benefit of cutting costs and helping to increase the competitiveness of the region’s economies as well as reducing dependence on imports.

“Reducing energy wastage in eastern Europe and developing reliable new supplies of sustainable energy remain core to the EBRD’s future strategy,” said EBRD President Thomas Mirow. “Energy efficiency helps increase competitiveness. It is a key part of the transition proces,” he added.

The first stage of the EBRD’s Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI) was launched in May 2006 as a response to the rising challenges of climate change.

The main elements of the initiative were investments in large-scale industrial energy efficiency, power sector and municipal infrastructure energy efficiency as well as the development of renewables.

The EBRD’s investments in sustainable energy from May 2006 up until the end of 2008 reached €2.7 billion, outstripping the original target of €1.5 billion by 77 percent. There were a total of 166 investments in 24 countries for a total project value of €14 billion.

The total reduction in carbon emissions achieved during this period is estimated at around 21 million tonnes per annum of CO2, corresponding to the annual emissions of Croatia. Energy savings are estimated at over 8 million tonnes of oil equivalent per annum equivalent to about three times the energy demand of Albania.

The Bank also launched new facilities to finance sustainable energy projects via financial intermediaries and supported the development of the carbon market.

Over the next three years, the EBRD will build on the work done so far and target additional types of investment, including energy efficiency in buildings and the transport sector, climate change mitigation in natural resources, stationary use of biomass and investments in climate change adaptation.

The EBRD will also develop new products, widening the range of financing instruments supporting sustainable energy investments.

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