FRANKFURT, March 19 The European Investment Bank expects to expand its lending for renewable energy projects in Germany as Europe's largest economy weans itself off nuclear power, the EU lender said on Tuesday.
The development bank made around 5.2 billion euros ($6.7 billion) in loans for projects in Germany last year, 11 percent of which flowed into energy projects, and sees a 30 percent expansion in lending as realistic in the near term, EIB Vice-President Wilhelm Molterer told a journalists briefing.
The EIB's biggest single financing effort in Germany last year was a 500 million euro loan for the 288 Megawatt wind farm ENBW Baltic 2, which is expected to come on line in 2014.
"Three to four such projects are in the works," Molterer said.
Financing renewable energy projects will remain an EIB priority in 2013, especially off-shore wind farms, where building and operational risks make financing through the private sector difficult, he said.
The EIB has ploughed more than 1.8 billion euros into German off-shore wind projects since 2010. In Europe, including projects in Belgium and the UK, it has invested a total of 3.8 billion.
Thanks to a 10 billion euro capital increase, the EIB expects to be able to boost its lending by up to 70 billion euros per year, or about 30 percent annually, through 2015, Molterer said.
The EIB, whose shareholders are the 27 member states of the EU, borrows money on the capital market rather than drawing it from the EU budget. It earned around 2.5 billion euros last year but transfers earnings into reserves rather than paying a dividend. ($1 = 0.7717 euros) (Reporting by Jonathan Gould; editing by Stephen Nisbet)