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Romania Wind Energy: Windows of opportunity and financing challenges

According to a recent study done by Ernst & Young, Romania is one of the most lucrative countries in Europe for investors in wind energy.

This is partially due to their green certificates market which gives tradable green certificates to producers of renewable energy.

For wind power producers, this means they get two green certificates for every megawatt of wind power till January 1st 2018. Afterwards, every megawatt of wind power will be worth one green certificate until 2025.

A green certificate has a value of around 27-55 euro. As it is indexed to inflation the range is currently 1-2 euros higher. That’s on top of the base electricity rate which is now ca. 42 Euro per MW Hour.

Currently Romania has around 1.770 MW of wind power installed, and this number is expected to grow by 600 -1000 MW in 2013.

Opportunities as well as challenges for those seeking to enter the Romanian wind energy market, were discussed at the 3rd annual Wind Power Romania, a three days event, organized by GreenPower Conferences.

The conference, which took place in Bucharest last week, was attended by over 300 board-level delegates from major developers, ministries and other buyers as well as debt providers.

According to Amir Boaz, a local advisor to foreign investors in renewable energy in Romania, the favorable window of opportunity to start construction of a wind projects will close in one year.

The reason is that wind projects which will be connected after January 1st 2015 are subject to the risk of a reduction in green certificates, based on a calculation of over compensation, calculated by Romanian electricity regulator ANRE.

According to Mr. Amir, the challenge to growth is not lack of equity but rather difficulties in obtaining debt financing. The reason is a law enacted last August and which restricts energy producers to sell electricity on a “transparent and centralized market”. This implies the illegality of bilateral PPA agreements. With the lack of PPA debt providers are less inclined to lend.

Despite this legal situation, debt financing for around 300 MW of wind projects were announced lately by the EBRD and IFC in collaboration with commercial banks.

During the finance panel of the GreenPower Conference, delegates of both financial institutions, stressed their continued interest in financing wind projects in Romania. Given the absence of a PPA, they are willing to assume the so called “merchant” risk, of fluctuation in electricity as well as green certificate prices.

The Romanian government is aware of the damage this legal situation causes, and according to Mr. Amir, it is widely expected that it will be mended in the near future.

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