During the 2007 EIB Forum devoted to "Investing in Energy - Mastering Climate Change" in Ljubljana on 27 – 28 September, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is signing three loans amounting to EUR 393 million for energy projects in Slovenia. Mr. Maystadt, EIB President, commented: “I very much welcome the signature of the projects which will help to secure and diversify the energy supply in Slovenia and make a positive contribution towards meeting increased energy demand.”

A loan of EUR 350 million will be provided for the modernisation and efficiency increase of electricity generation from lignite, a major Slovenian fuel resource. This project covers the design, construction and commissioning of a new 600 MW steam turbine power plant in Šoštanj, central Slovenia. The power generation unit will replace 410 MW of existing lignite-fired capacity. Due to more efficient power generation, it will render a 28% reduction in the carbon intensity of the electricity produced by the concerned block of the thermal power plant. Operating in co-generation mode, it will also supply heat to the local district heating system.

This project is of high importance for the area as it will contribute to secure electricity supply, exploit local fuel resource, and support employment in a convergence region. As such, it is fully in line with EIB’s Energy Policy “Clean Energy for Europe: A reinforced EIB contribution”.

The Bank will also support with an additional EUR 13 million loan the completion of the construction and operation of the first pumped-storage power plant located on the Soča River, close to Nova Gorica. The project will decrease Slovenia’s dependence on fossil fuels and help the country to meet its commitments with respect to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The current loan will increase the EIB financing of this project to EUR 56 million.

The new Avče hydropower pumped-storage power plant will use off-peak electricity at night time to pump water, and the flow will be reversed and used for electricity generation at peak hours. It will have an output of 185 MW and it will operate alongside the existing hydropower plants on the Soča River.

Both power plant projects will be promoted by the Holding Slovenske Elektrarne Group (Slovenian Electrical Power Utility), which is responsible for well over 50% of total electricity production in Slovenia. The EIB has a well-developed and productive cooperation with the HSE Group. Previously, the Bank provided EUR 130 million in loans for the financing of three electricity generation projects: two hydropower plants and the aforementioned pumping station.

Another EIB loan of EUR 30 million will go to financing various small and medium sized investments with environmental benefits related to the reduction of air and water pollution, including greenhouse gases. EIB funds are taking the form of a framework loan to the Environmental Development Fund of the Republic of Slovenia (Eco Fund), Slovenia’s main vehicle to provide financing to environmental projects in accordance with national and EU priorities. These projects will be pursued by Slovenian municipalities, public and private companies, as well as individual households. Eco Fund will on lend to projects with a particular focus on energy efficiency, renewable “green” energy (biomass, solar and wind energy), and water and wastewater projects.

This loan is a continuation of the successful cooperation with the Eco Fund that benefited from an EIB loan of EUR 10 million in 2001. These funds were fully used to co-finance investments by the Slovenian public and corporate sector, contributing to the reduction of water and air pollution in line with the Slovenian National Environmental Action Plan.

Background information:

The promotion of sustainable, competitive and secure sources in the energy sector is a key policy objective of the European Union. As the EU’s long-term financing institution, the European Investment Bank (EIB) made support for Europe’s energy needs a top lending priority in 2007, targeting the increase of renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy saving, research and development in energy, and security and diversification of supplies. The EIB has set itself a minimum annual lending target of EUR 800 million for renewable energy projects.

Since the beginning of 2006, the EIB has provided loans in excess of EUR 6 billion for energy investment projects within the EU, of which EUR 456 million in 2006 and already EUR 901 million in 2007 have been for renewable energy projects.

The 2007 EIB Forum taking place in Ljubljana (Slovenia) on 27-28 September will look at different world energy scenarios, assess their economic and environmental sustainability, and discuss the political choices to be made. Energy supplies and the full spectrum of energy sources, from fossil and nuclear to renewable energy, will be considered, as well as energy demand in major sectors such as the car and steel industry, energy consumption for heating and lighting, and the potential for greater energy efficiency. On-line information on the EIB Forum can be accessed at www.eib.org/forum