Export-Import Bank: Energy Financing Trends Affected by Various Factors

GAO-02-1024 Published: Sep 16, 2002. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 2002.
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From 1990 through 2001, the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) of the United States provided export financing commitments totaling $31 billion to promote the export of U.S. goods and services for use in the energy sector. The energy sector is divided into fossil fuel, renewable, and nuclear energy. Financing is provided through a range of products, including loans and guarantees, export credit insurance, and working capital guarantees. Of the $28 billion Ex-Im Bank provided in loans and guarantees for energy-related projects from 1990 to 2001, 93 percent was used to finance fossil fuel projects, and 3 percent was for renewable energy projects. Trends in applications for fossil fuel and renewable energy projects largely mirrored trends in the energy projects financed because 90 percent of applications submitted were financed. Since 1990, Ex-Im Bank has not consistently provided information about its renewable energy program to Congress; its 1995 and 1998 annual reports did not address renewable energy. Ex-Im Bank's energy portfolio is affected by broad factors such as worldwide market conditions and to some degree by its policies, promotion efforts, and programs. The relatively small share of renewable energy in worldwide energy consumption, due in part to cost factors, is a key factor. Although Ex-Im Bank has undertaken some efforts to promote renewable energy, it has not focused specifically on this sector.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Export-Import Bank of the United States In reporting on its renewable energy efforts under Ex-Im Bank's 2002 reauthorization act, the Chairman of the Export-Import Bank should provide adequate information for Congress to assess these efforts and the types of challenges Ex-Im Bank faces. In addition to information on types of outreach and specific processes or programs to promote renewable energy exports, Ex-Im Bank should provide information on the types and amounts of financing actually provided, including the number and values financed for renewable energy transactions each year, and the specific renewable energy sectors to which the financing is provided.
Closed – Implemented
In our September 2002 report, "Export-Import Bank: Energy Financing Trends Affected by Various Factors" (GAO-02-1024), we found that the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank)did not consistently provide adequate information about its renewable energy programs to Congress. We particularly found a lack of specific information about financing of renewable energy projects. We recommended that the Chairman of Ex-Im Bank give Congress information on the types and amounts of renewable energy financing provided each year, including energy sectors to which financing is provided and the number and value of renewable energy transactions financed each year. Ex-Im Bank has recently begun to provide the detailed financing information we recommended. Its 2005 Annual Report included information on specific energy sectors, types and amounts of financing, and number of renewable energy transactions. This is in addition to information Ex-Im Bank provides in its annual Competitiveness Reports on its renewable energy outreach efforts.

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