The ongoing financial crisis may encourage companies in eastern Europe invest more in energy efficiency projects as part of their cost-cutting measures, a senior EBRD official said.
“It is very difficult to persuade companies to invest in energy efficiency because they always have some other priorities. They have expansion, new markets and products, always have something else to do. Now they will think about reducing costs,” Stefania Racolta, energy efficiency and climate change manager at EBRD, told SeeNews in a recent interview.
Racolta said EBRD is preparing to increase its investments in energy efficiency in eastern Europe by extending new credit lines after achieving success in this type of lending facilities in Bulgaria.
“Bulgaria is such a good example that EBRD has started to do similar credit lines in other countries – Slovakia, Romania, Georgia, Ukraine,” she said.
EBRD has extended to Bulgarian banks three energy efficiency credit lines for on-lending to industrial small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the residential sector and for investment in renewables worth a combined 170 million euro ($218.8 million).
The lender is considering expanding one of its Bulgarian energy efficiency and renewable energy credit lines targeting industrial SMEs by a further 55 million euro next year.
“They’ve already used 80 out of 100 million and for the other we have a lot of projects in the pipeline and we realised that in a few months we will be running out of money, so it’s now a good time to talk about a second phase,” Racolta said.
EBRD’s residential energy efficiency credit line for Bulgaria is worth some 50 million euro. Earlier this year the bank launched a 100 million euro credit line to support industrial energy efficiency in Romania.
“It’s a lot of money still available [in Romania] so we don’t have to extend it now,” Racolta said. “In Romania they are still working on finding and assessing project. We hope before the year ends to be able to mobilise 10 million.”
EBRD is also considering setting up a 50 million euro facility for funding of sustainable energy projects in western Balkan states.
“Western Balkans [facility] is now under preparation so we will have next year Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia,” Racolta said.
Last month the EBRD said it will raise investments by 20% to up to 7.0 billion euro next year in response to the severe impact of the global economic crisis on central and eastern Europe (CEE).
The additional investments will be targeted across the EBRD's countries of operations, with a specific focus on the western Balkans and less advanced countries in the Caucasus and in central Asia.
($ = 0.7768 euro)
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