EKF has lots of experience with wind energy. Having EKF as a guarantor was crucial to the financing as it created a sense of security among financial partners and owners.
In 2011 a group of private investors in Belgium and the Netherlands kick-started the negotiations for the establishment of the hitherto largest offshore wind farm off the coast of Belgium.
The plan was to make the new offshore wind farm, Northwind, even larger than the first offshore wind farm, Belwind, which was initiated by the same group of owners back in 2006.
Offshore wind farms typically require loans with a credit period of 15-17 years to ensure a proper balance between repayment and earnings. But the financial crisis turned the loan finance into a major challenge for Northwind.
”We found that it had become more difficult as well as more expensive to involve the banks in long-term financing. However, the banks would be willing to finance the project if we were able to present a strong business case”, says Francois van Leeuw, CFO, Northwind Offshore Energy.
”We were therefore forced to provide security for the financing before initiating negotiations with banks and financial partners. This was to be achieved by obtaining fool proof contracts with suppliers, guarantees from ECAs and com-mitments regarding insurance of the wind farm,” says Francois van Leeuw.