The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) are providing a €215mn loan to Serbia’s Čibuk 1 wind farm, the largest wind project in the Western Balkans region to date.

The EBRD is providing €107.7mn, of which €55mn is syndicated to Erste Bank, the Green for Growth Fund, UniCredit and Banca Intesa. Meanwhile, the IFC is providing €107.7mn, partially through its Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program and partially through syndicated B loans.

The total project cost is around €300mn. The remaining €83mn will be provided by developer Vetroelektrane Balkana. The company is owned by Tesla Wind, a joint venture between Masdar, a renewable energy firm based in Abu Dhabi, and Čibuk Wind Holding, a subsidiary of the US-based wind energy developer Continental Wind Partners.

The 158MW Čibuk 1 farm will be built 50km north-east of the Serbian capital Belgrade and comprise 57 wind turbines supplied by General Electric. It will cover an area of about 40km2 and is expected to be connected to the grid in the first half of 2019. The wind farm will fire up enough electricity to supply an estimated 113,000 households, while reducing CO2 emissions by more than 370,000 tonnes.

Yousif Al Ai, chairman of Tesla Wind, says: “The development of the largest wind farm in the Western Balkans is a pivotal moment for the expansion of renewables in the region and positions Serbia at the forefront of Europe’s fastest-growing alternative energy sector.”

Mohamed Al Ramahi, CEO of Masdar, says the project highlights the attractiveness of the Serbian market for renewable energy investment, which “has the potential to be a hub for additional projects in the region”.

Čibuk 1 will be Masdar’s fourth wind farm in Europe. It also developed the 630MW London Array, the world’s largest offshore wind farm in operation, the 402MW Dudgeon offshore wind farm in England, and Hywind Scotland, a 30 MW floating offshore windpower development situated near the coast of Aberdeenshire.

EBRD director of power and energy utilities Harry Boyd-Carpenter says the project is a breakthrough for Serbia as the country works to meet its commitment to produce 27% of domestic power needs from renewable energy sources by 2020.

“The EBRD has worked closely with the government to develop and refine the regulatory framework for the sector and these efforts have now unlocked job-generating foreign investment and the first wave of renewable-energy projects,” he says.