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Dramatic growth in wind power predicted in eastern Europe: association

Investment from pension schemes has, however, been “close to zero” so far.

EU member states in central and eastern Europe (CEE) aim to raise their wind power capacity dramatically by the end of the decade, increasing it to 16GW in 2020 – enough for nine million households – from 4.2GW at the end of 2011, a new report by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) shows. Of the twelve EU states, the countries producing the most wind power as of December 2011 were Poland (1.6GW in capacity), Romania (921MW), Bulgaria (607MW) and Hungary (329MW). The rapid build-up of wind power in the CEE began in 2005, when capacity was at just 200MW. According to the report, financing for the build-up has come from such banks as Erste Group and Raiffeisen of Austria, Italy’s Unicredit and Société Generale of France. Additional funding has come from public institutions, including the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and three EU cohesion policy funds. Between 2007 and 2010, the latter allocated €420m for wind power projects in the CEE.
But pension schemes and infrastructure investors have been conspicuously absent from wind power finance in the CEE. “To date, the volume from these investors isclose to zero,” said Richard König, Associate Director for Energy and Utilities at Raiffeisen, who spoke during this year’s EWEA conference in Vienna. König attributed this to several factors, chief of which are currency risks related to the use of currencies other than the euro or dollar, the lack of long-term predictability of regulation and the newness of many of the projects, which he says negatively affects their bankability. Even so, König said pension funds were beginning to take an interest in wind power in Poland due to the incentives being offered there. Poland uses a system of certificates to promote renewable energy. Another wind power market beyond the CEE where the EWEA expects huge growth is Turkey. According to its report, Turkey aims to install 20GW of wind energy capacity by 2023 – up from just 2GW currently.
The EWEA report also said Russia had little interest in wind power even though the country “would benefit economically and environmentally from harnessing its abundant wind resources.”
Link to EWEA Report