The European Investment Bank (EIB) is developing a financing facility to help cities improve their energy efficiency and buy cleaner bus fleets. An initial 15 million euro is foreseen to assist cities in developing the projects, but actual financing could reach “billions”, EURACTIV has learnt.
“We have two basic lines of action. One is energy efficiency and the other is public transport,” said Mario Aymerich of the EIB.
“The intention is to use new technologies like hydrogen or hybrid buses to be implemented in cities” using green public procurement rules, the official told a conference in Brussels yesterday (11 February).
Funding will go to projects that can demonstrate their ability to deliver on the EU’s so-called 20-20-20 policy of reducing greenhouse gases by 20% by 2020, and covering 20% of its energy needs with renewables by the same date, he explained.
EIB financing to cover up to 75% of costs
The EIB is currently working with the European Commission to set up a 15 million euro fund to offer cities “technical assistance” in developing projects. The facility has not yet been officially approved, but this should be announced “in the coming days,” Aymerich said.
“Once the projects are there, we can really start talking numbers,” said Nick Antonovics, a spokesperson for the EIB. “We’re talking about projects for big cities,” he added, saying these could reach “billions”.
According to Aymerich, “the new element of this facility is that, instead of financing up to 50% of the total cost of projects, we could arrive up to 75% of the total cost”.
Last year, the EIB lent more than ten billion euro to the energy sector, with more than 20% going to renewable energy projects. An additional 2.6 billion euro was granted for urban public transport systems, it said.
The EIB last week approved a 200 million euro loan to France’s Poitou-Charentes region to support its plans to install photovoltaic panels on public, industrial and commercial buildings. The bank is also in talks about projects in Barcelona, Milan and a number of other cities, said EIB President Philippe Maystadt.
Eastern European cities to receive specific assistance
The bank will also help cities to set up public transport authorities where required. “The role of this kind of authority is crucial,” Aymerich said, noting that public transport authorities are commonplace in western countries but not in central and eastern European states that have recently joined the EU.
Aymerich added that the EIB will adapt its funding mechanism to meet cities’ needs. “We arrived at the conclusion that our standard financial instruments are not adequately targeted to the real needs of operators and small cities. So, the intention is to shift our standard portfolio and to increase as much as possible our activities in this particular field.”