EBRD, IFC bankroll Serbia’s biggest wind power project

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has teamed up with International Finance Corp. (IFC) to provide 215 million euros (US$254 million) in syndicated loans to Serbia’s biggest wind project.
In a press release on October 17, the EU lender said a financing agreement had been signed for the Cibuk-1 wind farm in northern province of Vojvodina.

The 158-MW station is being built by Vetroelektrane Balkana, which is owned by a joint venture between Abu Dhabu-based green energy developer Masdar and Cibuk Wind Holding, a division of US-based Continental Wind Partners. It will comprise of 57 turbines supplied by General Electric (GE) and installed over a 40 square km area some 50 km northeast of the Serbian capital of Belgrade.

The farm is scheduled to be connected to the grid in the first half of 2019, and once operational, will generate enough power for 113,000 households. A total of 300 million euros (US$355 million) will be invested in the project.

As part of the financing package, the EBRD will syndicate a loan of 107.7 million euros (US$127 million), of which 55 million euros (US$65 million) will come from Vienna-based Erste Bank, Italian lenders UniCredit and Banco Intesa and the Green for Growth Fund. The latter was set up by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Germany’s state-owned KfW.

Another syndicated loan of 107.7 million euros (US$127 million) will be arranged by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group.

Serbia wants to draw 27% of its power needs from renewable energy sources by 2020 in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint. The Cibuk-1 farm is one of several wind projects under construction in the country, which currently produces 70% of its energy from burning coal and the rest from hydroelectric dams. According to Serbia’s Minister of Mining and Energy, Aleksandar Antic, around 500 MW of green energy capacity, mostly wind, is at various stages of development.

Just this week, Belgium’s Elicio completed work on the 8-MW Malibunar wind farm, also in northern Serbia, with commercial operations at the plant expected to start early next year. The Serbian government has also announced the start of construction on the nearby 42-MW Alibunar wind farm, due for launch in 2018.