Energy Efficiency

EBRD expands GEFF program for household energy efficiency in Western Balkans

EBRD expands GEFF household energy efficiency Western Balkans

Photo: EBRD

Published

September 28, 2021

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Published:

September 28, 2021

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The Green Economy Financing Facility (GEFF) enabled 9,000 households in the Western Balkans to invest EUR 45 million in energy-saving technologies. EBRD said it expanded the program in cooperation with the donors to EUR 135 million, with more funds to come next year. Participants that presented the results and plans stressed it is in the interest of the countries in the region and their citizens to green their economies.

The Western Balkans Green Economy Financing Facility (GEFF) program was established by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) with the support of donors. It provides specialized credit lines to individuals, together with incentives funded by the European Union, for investments in energy efficiency.

The program is cofinanced by the EU, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance, and bilateral donors to the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF). It is part of the Regional Energy Efficiency Programme (REEP) for the Western Balkans and implemented in partnership with the Energy Community Secretariat. GEFF was extended to Montenegro in March.

Results in emission cuts are equivalent to removing 7,700 cars from the roads

In less than four years, more than 9,000 households in the Western Balkans have invested EUR 45 million through GEFF in energy-saving technologies such as insulation, heat pumps, new windows and solar panels. With the said measures, emissions of carbon dioxide were reduced by more than 12,000 tonnes per year, equivalent to removing 7,700 cars from the roads.

The joint energy efficiency program for residential buildings has been expanded to EUR 135 million from EUR 85 million and more will be committed next year, representatives of the EBRD and its partners said at the Western Balkans Green Economy Financing Facility Award Ceremony, where they presented the achievements.

They agreed it is in the interest of the countries in the region and their citizens to green their economies and understand climate challenges as opportunities for environmental action that would also make them more competitive. The online event included a panel discussion on plans for the further greening of the region’s economies, in line with the EU Green Agenda and the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans.

EU donated EUR 27 million so far for grant incentives for households that take GEFF loans

Local financial institutions disburse the funds and households can apply for specialized credit lines. After the completion of the investment, the beneficiaries receive a grant incentive, worth up to 20% of the loan amount and funded by the EU with EUR 27 million so far.

A catalogue of technology vendors and distributors is accessible through GEFF’s web pages

More than 4,000 producers and sellers of highly efficient green technologies in the Western Balkans were certified through a catalogue called the Technology Selector. It is accessible through GEFF’s web pages for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. Potential users can browse for items such as thermal insulation, double-glazed windows, high-efficiency boilers, heat pumps, solar collectors or solar water heaters, and photovoltaic systems.

At the event, 18 partner financial institutions that joined the first phase of the program and the 32 most active and committed vendors were praised for their roles. In recognition of the joint efforts of GEFF donors, partner financial institutions, and producers and vendors of green technologies, the EBRD made a donation of 1,000 trees which will be planted in the region in mid-November.

Energy-saving improvements lower emissions, electricity costs

“We are enthusiastic that our support has helped so many households in the Western Balkans to invest in energy-saving improvements, leading to lower emissions and electricity costs. Combating air pollution and decreasing energy intensity are top priorities in the region and we will continue to provide support, with the GEFF as one of our key pillars for the residential sector,” said Aleksandra Vukosavljević, EBRD’s Director for Financial Institutions in the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe.

The European Commission is ready to support the implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, according to Richard Masa, Head of Sector at the EU’s Western Balkans Investment Framework – WBIF. There is EUR 500 million allocated for the purpose under IPA III funding, he noted.

The WBIF will facilitate the implementation of the Green Agenda by greening past and future investments across all its sectors as well as by prioritizing investments in technologies that may accelerate the green transition, Masa stressed.

EBRD’s Treppel: Individuals and poorer households should understand and benefit from investments in energy efficiency and contribute to climate action that way

“Austria strongly supports the GEFF in the Western Balkans in order to promote household investments in energy efficiency and allow individuals, as well as poorer households, to understand and benefit from such investments while contributing to sustainable, environmentally friendly improvements and tackling climate change,” said Leander Treppel, EBRD Board Director for Austria.

Head of the Energy Community Secretariat’s Infrastructure and Energy Efficiency Unit Violeta Kogalniceanu asserted that the success of GEFF in the Western Balkans is proof of how energy efficiency investments in households pay for themselves through the savings they achieve. “It also demonstrates that a good program that wisely combines policy dialogue, technical assistance, the EBRD’s availability to lend to partner financial institutions, and EU grants in the form of incentives, can make a significant impact on the market,” she added.

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