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  A discussion with the members of the OeEB executive board: "Energy is the foundation for development." 

Which role do energy projects play in the portfolio of Oesterreichische Entwicklungsbank?

Andrea Hagmann: Energy projects are a main focus for us and make up roughly a third of our portfolio. In doing so, we primarily emphasise renewable energy and energy sources in the target country: geothermal, water, solar and wind power are areas in which we are active or would like to develop.
 
Michael Wancata: One example of indirect involvement of OeEB in energy projects is the Green for Growth Fund, which has taken it upon itself to make investments in energy efficiency projects and renewable sources of energy in Southeast Europe. Closely related to that is climate protection. We are indirectly promoting corresponding projects by means of a EUR 5 million investment in the Interact Climate Change Facility.

Why is "energy" such an attractive topic for a development bank?

W: Energy is the foundation for any kind of local business and therefore for development itself. It is the core activity of a development bank to help developing countries and emerging markets access their own energy sources and thereby reduce dependence on oil imports.

How does a typical OeEB energy project look like?

H: A typical energy project for OeEB is one in which we make it possible to use local energy resources, such as the geothermal power plant in Nicaragua. Or it is a project that promotes the distribution of energy, like in Georgia. In Turkey, we are supporting programs with our partner Şekerbank to improve energy efficiency - that is another typical focus of OeEB.

Where does OeEB reach its limits?

W: The projects must be economically viable. That means that we need reasonable electricity rates and laws on renewable electricity for investments in renewable energy. At the moment, these are practically non-existent in our target countries, which is why we often end up with hydroelectric and wind power, because they are easier to operate profitably than other forms of renewable energy like photovoltaic power.

Which regions are especially promising?

W: Energy is a global topic that is relevant to every region. However, at OeEB we are concentrating on our main regions - Latin America, South Caucasus, Southeast Europe and the Black Sea. For example, the potential for hydroelectric power is huge in Georgia. It is only now being harnessed, though, with the construction and renovation of the distribution network. The same applies to Armenia, where there is a great deal of interest in small hydroelectric power plants. We are currently identifying potential projects in Serbia.



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