Serbia’s largest wind project has been given a financial windfall of €215 million in order to get the project moving.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) are providing the loan to Čibuk 1 wind farm, the largest wind project in the Western Balkans to date.
The 158 MW Čibuk 1 wind farm is being developed by Vetroelektrane Balkana, owned by Tesla Wind which is a joint venture between Masdar, a renewable-energy company based in Abu Dhabi, and Čibuk Wind Holding, a subsidiary of the US-based wind-energy developer Continental Wind Partners.
The financing package for the €300 million wind farm was signed in Belgrade in the presence of Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić.
Čibuk 1 will be built 50 km to the north-east of the Serbian capital, Belgrade.
It will comprise 57 wind turbines supplied by General Electric and will cover an area of about 40 km2.
The plant is expected to be connected to the grid in the first half of 2019 and to produce electricity for an estimated 113,000 households, while reducing CO2 emissions by more than 370,000 tonnes.
The construction of the wind farm will also create 400 jobs in the area and contribute to improvements in local infrastructure with, for example, the construction of 50km of roads.
Yousif Al Ai, chairman of Tesla Wind said: “The development of the largest wind farm in the Western Balkans is a pivotal moment for the expansion of renewables in the region and positions Serbia at the forefront of Europe’s fastest-growing alternative energy sector.”
Mohamed Al Ramahi, chief executive of Masdar, added: “This project highlights the attractiveness of the Serbian market for renewable energy investment and has the potential to be a hub for additional projects in the region.”
Čibuk 1 will be Masdar’s fourth wind farm in Europe after the 630 MW London Array, the world’s largest offshore wind farm in operation, the 402 MW Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm in England, and Hywind Scotland, a 30 MW floating offshore windpower development situated near the coast of Aberdeenshire.
The EBRD is providing a €107.7 million syndicated loan, of which €55 million is syndicated to Erste Bank, the Green for Growth Fund, UniCredit and Banca Intesa under an A/B loan structure. In parallel, the World Bank’s IFC is providing €107.7, partially through its Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program and partially through syndicated B loans.
Harry Boyd-Carpenter, EBRD director of power and energy utilities, said: “The Čibuk wind farm is a breakthrough for Serbia as the country works to meet its commitment to produce 27% of domestic power needs from renewable energy sources by 2020.
“The EBRD has worked closely with the government to develop and refine the regulatory framework for the sector and these efforts have now unlocked job-generating foreign investment and the first wave of renewable-energy projects.”