AIB has launched a €100 million fund for small and medium-sized businesses to help them invest in energy-saving projects.

The bank said the loans, which are supported by the European Investment Bank, would be the first to take projected savings into account when the ability to make repayments was being calculated.

AIB has described energy as a “key lending area” and is making a total of €1 billion available to the sector over the next three years.

“It is clear that the economic downturn has prompted businesses to focus on energy savings as a way of cutting costs when revenue growth is slow,” said the bank’s director of personal, business and corporate banking Bernard Byrne. 

“On the broader canvas, that in turn should help Ireland achieve its 2020 targets of reducing energy consumption by 20% by 2020”.

As part of the announcement, released the findings of a survey it commissioned Amarach Research to undertake on SMEs’ energy usage.

It found that energy accounted for around 9% of a business’s operating costs, which would represent around €70,000 per annum for an average SME.

The survey found that many SMEs were open to availing of finance in order to make their businesses more energy efficiency, with most saying they would need to borrow less than €25,000 over a three year period.