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EBRD strengthens drive for energy efficiency

By Axel  Reiserer

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The EBRD is launching the new Western Balkans Sustainable Energy Efficiency Facility II (WeBSEFF II) to support efforts towards the improved use and conservation of energy in the region. The facility is combining necessary longer-term financing with technical expertise, two crucial components which often remain difficult to obtain.

The €75 million framework is designed to provide credit lines to local banks in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYR Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia for on-lending to private and municipal borrowers for energy efficiency and renewable energy investments. In the first phase it is now being launched in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYR Macedonia and Serbia.

WeBSEFF II is part of the Regional Energy Efficiency Programme for the Western Balkans, a joint initiative of the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) and the EBRD. Under this umbrella, the European Union is supporting WeBSEFF II with €11.5 million in grant funds for technical cooperation programmes and investment incentives for borrowers, who will benefit from consultation and advice such as free energy audits.

The Western Balkans region has significant untapped potential for energy efficiency investments, while a number of barriers remain in the market. WeBSEFF II has been designed to address those issues in accordance with the objectives of the participating countries’ National Energy Efficiency Action Plans (NEEAPS), which give a prominent role to the public sector. Key goals are to maximise the energy-saving potential, open up new markets and ensure an efficient and effective allocation of funds.

The first loans under the new framework are a €5 million loan to Raiffeisen Bank Bosnia and Herzegovina and a €20 million loan to Zagrebačka Banka d.d. in Croatia. Two further loans with two commercial banks for a total of €25 million are under preparation in Croatia alone.

Vedrana Jelušić Kašić, EBRD Director for Croatia, said: “The new facility represents an important step forward in our efforts to support the sustainable use of energy in the Western Balkans, a region where considerable shortcomings persist. Building on previous work in the field we are putting special emphasis on renewable sources of energy and have widened the set of eligible participants to the municipal sector where large untapped potential for savings remains.”

The new facility builds on the success of the €60 million WeBSEFF I, launched by the EBRD in 2009, 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. The EU has provided grant financing to the framework.

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