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EBRD supports largest renewable energy project in Greece to date

By Olga Aristeidou

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Funds to finance new solar PV plants built in the most coal-dependent region of the country.

  • EBRD boosting renewables in Greece with €75 million investment in HELPE’s bond issuance
  • Funds to finance new solar PV plants built in the most coal-dependent region of the country
  • Largest renewable energy project in the country to date

Supporting the largest renewable energy project in Greece and the largest solar energy project in south-eastern Europe to date, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is investing €75 million in the successful Eurobond tap issuance by Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE), a leading Greek energy group.

The total funds of €100 million raised will enable HELPE to finance the construction of 18 solar photovoltaic (PV) plants with a total installed capacity of 204 MW in Kozani, Western Macedonia, the country’s most coal-dependent region.

The solar park will be built close to existing coal-fired power plants that are being phased out and is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 320,000 tonnes annually.

HELPE is listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, while the bonds are listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange. The group aims to develop 600MW renewable energy capacity by 2025 in order to diversify its energy portfolio and reduce its environmental footprint by 50 per cent until 2030.

Harry Boyd-Carpenter, EBRD Head of Energy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: “We are very proud to support HELPE in developing what will be the largest solar park in south-eastern Europe. Greece has a very ambitious decarbonisation plan and it will therefore need many projects of this scale to replace its existing lignite capacity. We are very happy to be part of this milestone project, led by such a strong sponsor, and support the transition of Western Macedonia towards new greener economic activities.”

George Alexopoulos, General Manager Strategy and new Business Activities and member of the HELPE Board of Directors commented: “The Kozani project is our first big step towards building a material renewables portfolio in line with our strategy and our ambition to reduce our carbon footprint.  The project will aim to maximise employment and content from the local community and, starting in 2022, produce 350 GWh per year of zero-emission electricity.  We are very pleased to have the EBRD’s support in this landmark endeavour.”

The investment comes under the Greek Renewable Energy Framework and is aligned with the EBRD’s Green Economy Transition (GET) approach, the Bank’s strategy for helping the economies where it invests build low-carbon and resilient economies.

It is also aligned with the objectives of the Bank’s Just Transition Initiative, which aims to address the shift from fossil fuel-dependent economies towards climate-resilient and low-carbon economies. It is anticipated that 300 short-term jobs will be created during the construction of the solar park as well as dozens of direct and indirect jobs during operations, most of which will come from the local community.

The investment supports Greece’s commitment to decarbonise its electricity sector through rapid growth in renewable energy and the implementation of technology-neutral, market-based renewable energy auctions, which enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of the renewables sector. Greece is aiming to close all its existing coal fired power plants by the end of 2023 and to mothball one plant currently under construction by 2028.

The EBRD started investing in Greece on a temporary basis in 2015 to support the country’s economic recovery. To date, the Bank has invested close to €4 billion in over 65 projects in the country, with most investments (more than 40 per cent) supporting sustainable infrastructure.

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