2020 is the year when so much of normal life has been put on hold: travel, meetings, office work, the simple pleasures of meeting friends and family. It has also been a year of frenzied activity, and of rising to meet new demands in unfamiliar, difficult circumstances.
This has been a year when the EBRD pivoted, in weeks if not days, to reconfigure its entire business activity to meet the extraordinary challenges Covid-19 threw at our countries and our clients.
We developed new products, put in place new processes and deployed our capital across our 38 countries of operations to meet needs that we had never anticipated.
Less positively, 2020 has been another year when atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases reached new highs, and the urgency and importance of addressing catastrophic climate change were reinforced by the vulnerability the coronavirus crisis exposed. So, alongside the short-term response, the EBRD has redoubled its efforts to build a more sustainable future.
In no country is this imperative greater than Poland, which is facing one of the hardest energy transitions in the world in moving from a decades-long reliance on coal for nearly 80 per cent of its electricity.
Yet, with the EBRD’s support, Poland is now on the road to change.
2020 saw operations start at one of the largest windfarms in the country, the 220 MW Potegowo plant, owned by the Israeli Infrastructure Fund, not much more than a year after closing a financing package with the EBRD.
In May, the EBRD signed the financing arrangements for a portfolio of almost 200 MW of wind and solar projects owned by the French developer Qair.
July marked the Polish sponsor Polenergia’s signing loan agreements for its 121 MW Debsk windfarm.
And in November, the Bank provided more lending for the German renewables company WKN to construct two more Polish windfarms, totalling 59 MW.
There is more to come this year – with Board approval already in place for a 51 MW windfarm developed by the Finnish fund manager Taaleri, working with the Abu Dhabi-based renewable giant Masdar.
Five very different projects, with five very different sponsors - but all bringing investment, revenues, taxes and jobs to communities across Poland, and all building plants that will generate millions of MWh of clean electricity for Poland for decades to come. Five projects building back better.
Making projects like these happen is hard work at the best of times. Achieving this in the midst of a crisis that strikes at both the fundamentals of economic stability and the minutiae of day-to-day life takes something more.
This success depends on a network of partnerships and trust, bringing together governments, regulators, sponsors, construction workers, local authorities, lenders, lawyers, engineers and the hundreds of workers who actually construct these plants.
In the words of EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso: “this shows the value of the EBRD’s ABC: our signature Agility, our focus on Building Back Better, and our unrelenting Commitment both to our Clients, including many in the private sector, and to our Countries.”