The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is launching the €75 million Western Balkans Sustainable Energy Financing Facility II (WeBSEFF II) to improve energy supply in the eligible countries, with investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
WeBSEFF II is supported by €11.5 million in grant funds provided by the European Union for technical cooperation programmes and investment incentives for borrowers, who will benefit from consultation and advice such as free energy audits.
The programme covers the countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYR Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia. Eligible borrowers include private sector companies, energy service companies (ESCOs), municipalities and public building owners. WeBSEFF II builds on the success of the fully committed Western Balkans Sustainable Energy Financing Facility I (WeBSEFF I), launched in April 2009.
A first loan under the framework is being provided to Raiffeisen Bank Bosnia and Herzegovina in the amount of up to €5 million, to enable the borrower to deepen its sustainable energy financing activities in the country.
The President of the EBRD, Sir Suma Chakrabarti, said: “The imperative to improve energy efficiency in the Western Balkans remains as strong as ever. Energy prices are increasing and it is expected that this trend will accelerate. Such energy price rises create an additional cost burden on businesses. Improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of renewable energy is an effective response to this challenge.”
Michael Mueller, director of Raiffeisen Bank Bosna i Hercegovina, said: “It is reasonable to expect further growth of demand for financing energy efficiency projects and we are looking forward to continued cooperation with the EBRD and to further financing of this type. Customers already recognise the many advantages of the framework. There is growing awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency measures. We expect nothing but success with this credit line. It will cut costs for our customers and strengthen their competitiveness and also help protect and preserve the environment. We take pride in our focus both on economic success and our responsible relationship with the community and the environment. This is an anchor of our sustainability strategy and one which is becoming increasingly important.”
Significant potential for energy efficiency investments remains untapped in the Western Balkans region, while a number of barriers remain in the market. The structure of WeBSEFF II has been designed to address those barriers, maximise the energy-saving potential of the programme, open up new markets and ensure that scarce grant resources are allocated in a more efficient and effective way.
The facility builds on the success of the €60 million WeBSEFF I, under which 123 energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, totalling €55 million of loans, have been financed to date, while eight banks across three countries have participated. In Bosnia and Herzegovina 55 projects were supported to a total amount of €15 million. The EU has provided grant financing to the framework.