The Bank of Ireland Corporate Banking, otherwise known as the Bank of Ireland, launched a specialized Eur500 million (US$619 million) fund dedicated to the environment and renewable energy sector. The fund is earmarked for lending to companies and projects in the Renewable Energy, Water Treatment and Waste Management segments. It follows the creation by Bank of Ireland during 2003 of a dedicated Environment Finance Group.Dublin, Ireland – January 30, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The Bank of Ireland Corporate Banking, otherwise known as the Bank of Ireland, launched a specialized € 500 million (US$619 million) fund dedicated to the environment and renewable energy sector. The fund is earmarked for lending to companies and projects in the Renewable Energy, Water Treatment and Waste Management segments. It follows the creation by Bank of Ireland during 2003 of a dedicated Environment Finance Group. Announcing the fund at a seminar for industry stakeholders Padraig Rushe, Director of Bank of Ireland Corporate Banking emphasized Bank of Ireland’s focus as well-suited to the increasingly commercialized nature of renewable energy and environmental projects. “We see a range of significant developments ahead which are both critical to Ireland’s infrastructure and future competitiveness but are also strongly commercial,” Rushe said. “Over the next five years alone in excess of € 6 billion (US$7.4 billion) will be invested in environment related projects in Ireland. Bank of Ireland is already a leading domestic and international player in the sector and we believe the time is now right to create a Specialist Unit to meet the specific expectations and needs of our existing and potential customers into the future.” Rushe said the Unit will enable customers to capitalize upon the wider strength of the Bank of Ireland Group in areas such as Structured (Project / Acquisition) Finance, where the bank can bring together a specialist team as appropriate. It will also enable these customers to benefit from the depth of experience Bank of Ireland has in domestic and international financings in the sector. “While we have not previously had a specialized unit to focus the attention of our resources, Bank of Ireland has already over € 2.5 billion (US$ 3 billion) committed to this sector and has participated in and underwritten very high quality business,” Rushe said. In the course of proceedings at the seminar, the audience was given a perspective on the future for the sector. These factors presented by the Bank of Ireland are among the reasons for the creation of the new specialized banking unit. – Renewable Energy is seen as one of the areas of greatest potential – and primarily Wind Energy. This is a relatively new industry but has the capacity to supply a substantial portion of the world’s energy requirement into the future, especially in the context of the Kyoto Protocol. – The Water and Wastewater sectors are also developing as important market segments. The Irish Government has embarked on an investment program of € 4 billion (US$ 4.9 billion) on new wastewater treatment facilities in all of the counties throughout Ireland. To date most of the investment has been sourced from central government under the Design Build and Operate (DBO) approach to Public Private Partnerships (PPP) but there are indications that the Private Finance route will be used in Northern Ireland in 2004. – The Waste Management sector is without question one of the most challenging areas at present. Investment is taking place in the sector and is anticipated to grow significantly over the next five years to in excess of € 1 billion (US$ 1.23 billion) in Ireland alone.