The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) today hosted the launch event for the Green Economy Financing Facility (GEFF) in Serbia, the fourth and largest Western Balkan market where the GEFF, aimed at providing financing for energy efficiency improvements to households through a network of partner banks, has been rolled out to date.
The EBRD and partner institutions have earmarked EUR 85 million for the Western Balkans under the GEFF, EBRD Regional Director for the Western Balkans Zsuzsanna Hargitai said at the GEFF launch ceremony. In a recent interview with Balkan Green Energy News, Hargitai said that the allocation for Serbia is EUR 25 million of the overall funding envelope, supported by around EUR 5 million of EU grants.
Only a small portion of people in Serbia have implemented energy efficiency measures, making for a massive energy savings potential, Hargitai said at the ceremony.
Serbian Mining and Energy Minister Aleksandar Antić agreed with this assessment, noting that households account for 35% of energy consumption in Serbia and that the biggest energy savings opportunities are therefore in the household segment of the market. He also recalled that earlier energy efficiency projects for public buildings, implemented in cooperation with the EBRD and German development bank KfW, resulted in energy savings of 40%.
Reasons to invest in the green economy are many, the most important being the fight against climate change, energy security, reducing energy dependence, and cutting household costs, said Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi, noting that energy efficiency will also be good for Serbia in the process of EU membership negotiations.
Violeta Kogalniceanu, Head of Infrastructure and Energy Efficiency at the Energy Community Secretariat, noted that Serbia is the largest of the Western Balkan countries where the GEFF operates and as such needs to lead by example.
Veronika Spacapan, Principal at the GEFF, presented the facility and laid out its objectives, which include demonstrating the market potential for green lending to the residential sector; stimulating the growth of the market for energy efficiency technologies and fostering competition; increasing awareness for high performance, energy saving solutions; and supporting ongoing EBRD policy dialogue on building energy efficiency legislation in the Western Balkans.
The launch event was also addressed by EBRD Board Director for Austria Leander Treppel, who said that more local banks in Serbia are expected to partner with the GEFF soon, after Erste Bank and UniCredit Bank Srbija already did so, signing credit lines of RSD 600 million (about EUR 5.1 million), each.
Serbian residents will be able to take out loans from these partner financial institutions specifically for green technology solutions for their homes such as new double-glazed windows, high-efficiency boilers or thermal insulation, the EBRD said in a press release
Families investing in energy-efficient technologies will be eligible to apply for an EU grant of up to 20% of their investment. Vendors and producers of energy-efficient solutions for the residential sector can also access financing under the GEFF program. In addition, the program will provide technical assistance, such as energy audits for the renovation of apartment buildings.