Erste Group has so far financed more than 60 projects in the renewable energy industry (RES) in the total amount of over 220 million euros, said the President of the Executive Board of Erste Bank in Serbia, Slavko Caric.
“Thanks to our credit support, 390 megawatts of capacity have been built that produce clean green energy from wind, water, solar, biomass and biogas,” Caric said in an interview with Nedeljnik.
When asked which standards in environmental protection projects from RES must meet in order to be financed by Erste Bank, he said that an analysis of the impact of projects on the environment (the so.called ESIA study) is always required.
“We consider this to be one of the most important parameters in project analysis and non.compliance with standards is an elimination criterion. Namely, given the complexity of projects, the need to comply with international and domestic legislation, and taking into account all impact factors, financial institutions, the bank has decided to hire an expert to assess the impact on society and the environment as part of the permanent team, so that the financing is in line with the highest standards implemented by international financial institutions, which provided training and education in this area, “he explained. is Caric.
He pointed out that the golden age of the incentive purchase price for electricity produced from RES (feed in tariffs) may be over, and that the golden age of RES is yet to come.
“Most European countries switched to the auction system a few years ago. Whatever system is established, it must be such as to enable investment in new RES projects. It used to require direct support from the state, but things are happening quickly and from “The very fact that for a few months now the market price of ‘black’ electricity has been extremely high and comparable, and even higher than the former ‘feed in tariffs’, indicates that,” Caric said.
As he stated, the price of certain technologies for the use of RES is falling even at this moment, for example, the ratio of investment and market price is such that investment in solar panels is profitable on market principles.
According to Caric, Erste Bank is very interested in financing the construction of solar power plants and those that will use wind power.
“The growing urgency of the problem caused by rising global temperatures has motivated the Erste Group to tighten financing parameters for coal.related thermal energy activities by updating the chapter on fossil fuels in its ‘Responsible Financing Policy’. This problem is particularly present in our region. it is still an important factor that provides energy security and continues to serve as a significant primary energy source in district and individual heating, “said Caric.
He stated that the Erste Group wants to support the region’s distance from coal without jeopardizing energy security and social responsibility.
“In that context, we are already in talks with our relevant corporate clients, so that they can define quality transition plans by the end of 2023, and in that way we will support clients’ efforts to get out of the coal.fired thermal energy sector by the end of 2030.” “, said Caric.
He added that in the new investment cycle in this area, in addition to banks, there will be valuable support from European and world funds and international financial institutions that will be ready to offer adequate lines with long deadlines, favorable prices and possible grant components.
“The support of the National Bank of Serbia is also extremely important in order to recognize such projects as strategically important and, in accordance with that, evaluate the means of security and the necessary provisions differently,” Caric said.
He pointed out that Erste Bank supports some other activities that contribute to achieving the goals of sustainable development and carbon neutrality, and not only to RES, such as energy efficiency projects.
“According to Erste Group’s research, currently 75 percent of all buildings in the EU are not energy efficient, consume 40 percent of total electricity consumption and emit 36 percent of greenhouse gases. To achieve the goal of net reduction of emissions by 55 percent by 2030, it is necessary to double the energy renovation rate private and public buildings, primarily by decarbonization of heating and cooling systems, which are responsible for about 80 percent of energy consumption, “said Caric.
It is estimated, as he said, that in order to achieve that goal, 275 billion euros of investments will be needed annually in renovation projects.
“On the other hand, the data for the Western Balkans are even more alarming, because it is estimated that households consume about three times more energy than European countries. When it comes to Serbia, the data show that as many as 300,000 houses do not have thermal insulation and consume four to five times more energy than households in the EU, “Caric said.
He reminded that Erste Bank, for several years now, together with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), through the Green Economy Financing Program (GEFF) for the Western Balkans, we have been actively promoting energy efficiency in households.
“We recently signed the second credit line, providing an additional 10 million euros available to citizens to invest in improving energy efficiency. Our data from last year indicate a great interest of clients in these loans. The average loan amount was 398,500 dinars, while the average repayment period was 46 months. Citizens most often used these funds to insulate walls and roofs, replace carpentry, as well as to install biomass and pellet boilers. The largest number of energy efficiency loans were approved in Vranje, Zrenjanin and Sombor, “Caric said.
He added that Erste Bank has so far invested over 20 million euros in energy efficiency projects such as the replacement of public lighting or the conversion of heating systems, from fuel oil to biomass or natural gas.