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EBRD sets new milestone in renewable energy financing

By Malina Gont

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EBRD sets new milestone in renewable energy financing

Work on the solar project is already underway near the village of Benban in Egypt. © Infinity 50 for Renewable Energy and The Door Production House, Egypt

Bank financing adds well over 1GW in renewables capacity this year

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has set a new landmark in its global climate response: financing well over 1 GW of new renewables capacity in 2017 with an expected reduction in CO2 emissions of 2 million tonnes a year.

“Renewables is a sector where the EBRD is making a major contribution,” said the EBRD’s Managing Director for Energy and Natural Resources, Nandita Parshad. “It plays to our strengths of galvanising private sector expertise in combination with support for reforms that incentivise investments in new green technology.”

The EBRD is completing two important renewable projects this week with financing in Egypt for the largest solar site in Africa and in Serbia for the country’s largest wind farm. Other investments this year have included important projects in Mongolia, Greece and Turkey, all countries with a legacy of fossil fuels and in most cases coal and lignite-based power systems.

Bank investments over the last 10 years have focused increasingly on sustainable energy in line with the growing momentum in support of climate finance. The EBRD is well on the way to meeting commitments made in the run up to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement of dedicating 40 per cent of its total annual investments to green finance by 2020 and may even exceed it this year with the sharp increase in renewables financing.

Renewables are taking a rapidly rising share of the overall energy EBRD financing, helping countries to reduce their dependence on more traditional energy sources meeting the twin objectives of energy security and greenhouse gas emission reduction. To date, the EBRD has invested more than €4 billion directly in renewable energy, supporting projects in over 20 countries and funding more than 6.5 GW of capacity.

Solar and wind in Egypt and Serbia

Under the EBRD’s US$ 500 million framework for renewable energy in Egypt, the EBRD is financing 16 new solar power plants, making it the single largest investor in renewable energy in the country.

The 16 new plants, all located on a solar site near the village of Benban in Upper Egypt, will have 750 MW of solar capacity and are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 900,000 tonnes a year.

These will be the first private utility-scale renewable-energy projects in a country whose energy sector is otherwise dominated by the use of hydrocarbons.

The EBRD has worked closely with the Egyptian authorities to create the right conditions for private sector investment in the renewables industry and is supporting a wide range of leading industrial partners from abroad and within Egypt for the roll-out of the new plants.

Harry Boyd-Carpenter, the EBRD’s Director for Power and Energy Utilities, said: “This investment has made an important contribution to a major shift in Egypt’s energy market, engaging the private sector in support of renewables development and creating a template for many similar projects in the sector in the future.”

Once it has been completed the Benban solar site will be the largest solar installation on the African continent, with a planned total capacity of 1.8 GW.

The EBRD is the most important investor in renewable-energy and energy-efficiency projects in many of its countries of operations.

Two major projects completed recently in Serbia brought financing for wind farms Kovačica and Čibuk. Adding up to almost 300 MW, the two wind farms are the biggest in Serbia, Čibuk being also the largest wind farm project in the Western Balkans to date.

Once operational, Kovačica and Čibuk wind farms will reduce Serbia’s annual CO2 output by approximately 620,000 tonnes, and contribute to the country's ambitious goal to raise the share of energy consumption from renewable energy sources to 27 per cent by 2020.

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