Looking back at the year, how has the EIB contributed towards this holiday season being a success?

Then one foggy Christmas Eve Santa came to say, "Rudolph with your nose so bright Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer won’t be the only one bearing a bright red beacon near the Arctic Circle, when one of Europe’s biggest windfarms is completed in northern Sweden.

The wind farm, which is to be called North Pole, will have 1,101 wind turbines when it’s finished and is backed by a EUR 180 million loan from the European Investment Bank.

“We are working under the assumption that Santa and his reindeer are quite capable of spotting and avoiding these wind turbines, just as they do for many other obstacles,” says Jonas Wolff, a senior EIB energy engineer, who worked on financing the project.

Located near Piteå, 850 kilometres north of Stockholm, the windfarm is backed by the Investment Plan for Europe. The Plan allows the EIB to finance innovative projects that it might otherwise have had to forgo under its guidelines for typical loans.

>@Wikimedia - Piktochart
©Wikimedia - Piktochart

Chimney on the radar

If Santa and Rudolph want to be really sure they steer clear of the turbines, they can install new generation radars that distinguish between turbines and, presumably, chimneys. These are produced by Terma, with which the EIB signed a EUR 28 million loan, also under the Investment Plan for Europe.

Reheat your Christmas leftovers

In 2011 an EIB loan officer Juha Sulkanen had to use a wood stove to warm up his Christmas dinner leftovers on a visit home to Finland: the warm winter meant the ground was not frozen, so when Finland experienced a huge storm, trees were uprooted and fell on power lines. Large portions of the country were left without electricity.

So Suklanen worked on an EIB deal to loan EUR 200 million to Caruna, one of Finland’s major power transmission companies. The aim: to speed up laying the power cables underground to avoid Christmas being disrupted again. 

Get your Christmas tree

Ireland currently has the lowest forested area of all EU countries (11%, compared to the average of 42%). But the Irish do love evergreens, specifically the Sitka spruce, one of the largest evergreen species in the world. The EIB invested EUR 30 million with Dasos Capital Oy, a forest investment manager, to consolidate a portfolio of around 12 000 hectares of productive forest area in Ireland and ensure its sustainable management. Which should mean you can easily get your hands on a Christmas tree.

Looking for gifts?

No holiday season is complete without presents, so the EIB provided a EUR 10 million loan to help Science4You grow. Once again, this loan was part of the Investment Plan for Europe. The company, based near Lisbon, creates science toys that make noise, make a mess, or otherwise encourage kids to experiment. They also make your kids smarter.

>@Chris Welsch/EIB blog usage
A birthday party in Lisbon using Science4You toys. (Photo by Chris Welsch, copyright EIB) ©Chris Welsch/EIB blog usage

Candy

If you associate Christmas with candy, try some chocolate that’s good for you. Well, good for your heart anyhow. The EIB financed the University of Latvia this year, an institution that’s big on research and development. Yet some of the fruits of this research and development can be relatively small, like the chocolate pills. You’re instructed to take four per day. But do consult with a professional if you’re already taking chocolate during this festive time of the year.

Alternatively, consider vegan truffles and peanut bars from Arzu the Foodbar Supplier in the Netherlands. They are planning to expand, with the support of an innovative fintech company iZettle that the EIB recently financed.

And, yes, wine.

How about trying out something different this year? Wine from Moldova, for example. Winemaking in Moldova dates back 5000 years and the Eastern European country, according to some reports, has the highest density of vineyards in the world. Over the past couple of years the EIB provided a EUR 75 million loan to the Moldovan wine industry to improve the wine’s quality and to increase exports to countries other than Russia.

To achieve this, Moldovan banks used EIB financing to give loans to vine growers, wine producers, bottlers, label printers and even the oenology department of the Technical University of Moldova, where modern lab equipment can now be used to test wine and improve the quality.

The EIB also provided technical assistance to the industry by, for example, taking Moldovan farmers and winemakers on trips to learn different methods in Italy, Luxembourg and France.

The push toward quality in Moldovan wine is making progress. Moldova has dramatically increased exports to new markets such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, and even China and Nigeria. Exports to EU countries have grown about 50% from 2010 to 2015.

When Rudolph guides Santa’s sleigh down from the far north this Christmas, he’ll discover that, after being rather naughty a few years ago, Europe’s economy is now behaving quite nicely. All these EIB projects have contributed to that. But next year we really ought to see if we can finance a mistletoe farm…