EIB and Erste Bank Finance €79.2 Million for Engelhartstetten Wind Farm, Aiding Austria’s Green Energy Transition

EIB and Erste Bank Finance €79.2 Million for Engelhartstetten Wind Farm, Aiding Austria’s Green Energy Transition

(IN BRIEF) The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Erste Bank Austria have jointly provided loans of up to €79.2 million to WLK energy for the construction of the new Engelhartstetten wind farm in Lower Austria. This wind farm will consist of 11 wind turbines with a combined generating capacity of 45 MW, equivalent to the power needs of approximately 39,000 homes and a reduction of 980 tonnes of CO2 emissions compared to traditional electricity production in Austria. The project aims to contribute to Austria’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector, decrease dependence on Russian gas, and align with the REPowerEU program. The EIB project also benefits from credit subsidies under the Austrian Renewable Energy Expansion Act, emphasizing its commitment to sustainable energy. Construction commenced on November 9, with grid connection planned for December 2024 and commercial commissioning in March 2025. Additionally, WLK energy has secured a 15-year electricity supply agreement with Lenzing AG and Messer Austria, supporting their sustainability goals and carbon reduction efforts.

(PRESS RELEASE) LUXEMBOURG, 10-Nov-2023 — /EuropaWire/ — The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Erste Bank Austria are financing the construction of the new Engelhartstetten wind farm with loans of up to €79,2 million to WLK energy. The wind farm situated in Lower Austria is comprised of 11 wind turbines with total generating capacity of 45 MW. This is equivalent to the average demand from 39 000 homes and will save 980 tonnes of CO2 compared to the traditional electricity production mix in Austria.

WLK energy is an Austrian electricity producer. A special purpose vehicle has been established for the Engelhartstetten plant, the turbines for which will be supplied by Vestas, a major European manufacturer. The EIB will contribute to the overall costs with a loan of €51.5 million, while Erste Bank der österreichischen Sparkassen will add €27.7 million. Total project costs are estimated to be close to €90 million.

The project will help Austria to cut energy sector greenhouse gas emissions and lower the still high dependence on Russian gas. As such, the wind farm will contribute to the REPowerEU programme, which is designed to end this dependence as soon as possible. It is also the first EIB project to benefit from credit subsidies under the Austrian Renewable Energy Expansion Act.

The federal state of Lower Austria has also put together an energy transition acceleration package in 2022 to speed up the approval process for renewables.

Construction of the wind farm started on 9 November and is set to last for 15 months. Grid connection is planned for December 2024, with commercial commissioning taking place in March 2025. In parallel, WLK energy has concluded a 15-year electricity supply agreement with Lenzing AG, a producer of wood-based textile fibres. Lenzing aims to cut CO2 emissions per tonne of fibres in half by 2030, and to become carbon-neutral by 2050. Another customer for the wind-power is Messer Austria, a manufacturer of industrial gas.

EIB Vice-President Thomas Östros, who is responsible for oversight of financing operations in Austria: “We were one of the first banks to start financing wind farms in Europe and in Austria, and we are very proud of it. We shall provide further support to the development and expansion of this technology. Every new wind farm represents one further step towards the green energy transition, and thus towards the most important goal of the EU climate bank.”

CEO of Erste Bank Austria Gerda Holzinger-Burgstaller: “It is important that we banks are aware of our responsibility towards the environment. Economic growth must be sustainable. In the future, we will take even more consideration towards the impact on the environment when awarding all our projects. By financing the Engelhartstetten wind farm, which will supply Austrian industry with green electricity, we are actively contributing to accelerating decarbonization. We need to ensure that money is invested sustainably and wisely to do better for the planet.”

Managing Director of WLK energy Mario Wohanka: “We are delighted to be delivering a further power station project with the EIB and Erste Bank as funding partners. WLK energy will provide a long-term supply of green electricity from this wind farm to two leading industrial concerns in Austria — Lenzing and Messer Austria. These partnerships are proof of our practical commitment to sustainability and will help to achieve calculable energy security and a more environmentally friendly carbon footprint.”

Deputy governor of Lower Austria Stephan Pernkopf: “The fact that the European Investment Bank is also part of this project shows how forward-looking the energy transition is being pursued here and that we have thus become a European role model. Lower Austria is already the federal state with the greatest CO2 reduction and the greenest electricity in Austria. This project catapults us even further forward. This protects the climate and benefits citizens, the economy and prosperity.”

Background information

The European Investment Bank (EIB)’s key priorities are climate and the environment, development, innovation and skills, SMEs, infrastructure and cohesion. It works closely with other EU institutions to foster European integration, promote the development of the European Union and support EU policies in more than 140 countries worldwide.

The EIB and energy security

Over the past decade, the European Investment Bank Group has channelled more than €100 billion into the European Union’s energy sector. These timely investments in energy efficiency, renewables, grids and storage are now helping Member States weather the crisis triggered by the abrupt cut in Russian gas supplies. In October 2022, the EIB’s Board of Directors decided to raise the Group’s clean energy financing volumes in support of the REPowerEU objective of ending Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuel imports. An additional €45 billion will be invested over the next five years, on top of the EIB’s already robust support for clean energy. It is estimated that the REPowerEU package will mobilise an additional €115 billion by 2027, thus making a substantial contribution to Europe’s energy independence and the EIB Group’s target to mobilise €1 trillion in climate finance this decade.

Erste Bank Austria is the leading institution within the Österreichischen Sparkassen Group. Together with the 46 regional savings banks, it is one of the country’s largest banking groups, providing financial services to 4 million private clients and medium-sized enterprises. Supporting public welfare has been a main pillar of its business model from the very beginning.

WLK energy is a privately owned Austrian energy producer. WLK energy’s mission is to provide a reliable supply of clean electricity from renewable sources to private households and businesses. It focuses in particular on the development, construction and operation of wind and solar farms and the distribution of the electricity generated.

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SOURCE: European Investment Bank


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