IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is helping Serbia increase its supply of renewable energy by lending €19.1 million to Elicio, a subsidiary of Nethys Group, a Belgium-based energy and telecommunications group, for the 42-megawatt Alibunar wind farm.
The agreement, which includes an A Loan of €15.5 million and a C Loan of €3.6 million, was signed on June 28 and syndication was closed on September 11. Unicredit, the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) and Green for Growth Fund (GGF) have agreed to provide a further €40m in B Loans to the project, which will help boost Serbia’s renewable energy production and improve the energy mix and electricity supply for homes and businesses in the northern province of Vojvodina. The project will also help Serbia meet its obligations under the Energy Community Treaty to have 27 percent of energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020.
“IFC’s strong involvement and backing demonstrates the strength of the project, and also Serbia’s ability and willingness to attract large investments in renewable energy,” said Ludo Vandervelden, General Manager of Elicio. “The recent amendments to the renewable energy laws paved the way for us to reach this important milestone and finally start construction, after years of ground-breaking development work.”
With 70 per cent of its electricity generation stemming from older coal-fired plants, Serbia is among the largest greenhouse gas emitters per capita in Europe with an unused renewable energy capacity. The project will help diversify Serbia’s aged and highly pollutant generation mix, reduce an estimated 123,644 tons of greenhouse emissions per year, and create between 70 and 100 jobs by 2018.
“The Alibunar wind farm is the largest wind farm project financed in Serbia up to date. IFC’s support for renewable energy is an important part of our work to address climate change and improve access to infrastructure,” said Wiebke Schloemer, IFC’s Head of Infrastructure in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. “The project also highlights IFC’s creating markets strategy, paving the way for other renewable energy projects looking for long-term financing from international or regional financial institutions. It is also a result of IFC’s work with the government of Serbia to improve relevant bylaws and the model power purchase agreement.”
The project’s wind turbine provider will be Senvion, a U.S. private equity-owned wind manufacturer that will also be the project’s operation and maintenance contractor. As well as its role as B Loan lender, Unicredit Serbia will act as account bank, VAT lender and interest hedging provider (alongside IFC). Allen & Overy and Karanovic & Nicolic acted as Lenders Legal Advisor, and DNV GL acted as Lenders Technical Advisor. Elicio was advised by White & Case and Karanovic & Nikolic. The World Bank Group announced a commitment to increase climate-related investments by 28 percent by 2020 following its 2015 Annual Meetings, roughly doubling IFC’s climate investments over the next five years.