Greece, perhaps more than any other country in the EU, has been the worst hit in the Euro-zone crisis. However, the Greek Prime Minister has declared that renewable energy investments will prove to be crucial to the country’s recovery.
According to Business Green, the country has even touted an investment of €20bn in solar which is part of the government’s plan to deliver 100 percent of its energy needs through renewable sources by 2050.
PM Lucas Papademos, who recently spoke at a renewable energy and infrastructure development summit in Athens, said that investment in green energy was a “national priority” to boost economic growth. Project Helios is the Greek government’s massive initiative to ramp up solar power production from 206 MW to 2.2. GW by 2020 and up to 10 GW by 2050. The country is aiming to become the EU’s largest exporter of green energy.
The government hopes that this plan will attract the investment needed and Greece can then transform itself into an exporter of solar power and help other EU countries to meet their renewable targets. Greece’s Energy and Climate Change Minister, George Papakonstantinou, also launched a draft renewable energy plan which will ensure that the country meets EU targets to deliver 80 percent emissions cuts by 2050.
The PM said that: “In the last few years, talk has centered on Greece’s fiscal discipline. No other OECD country has reduced its deficit by so much so quickly. But fiscal harmonisation isn’t enough for development. The energy sector gives Greece an opportunity to become a hub for the European Union and third countries.”
This sentiment was supported by Günther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Energy, who said that:
“Helios is a unique opportunity to demonstrate that renewable energy technologies like photovoltaics are becoming competitive in the near future through European cooperation. It could be the showcase project on the way to a truly integrated European market for electricity from renewable sources, while simultaneously helping the Greek economy to recover.”
According to the draft renewable policy however, the existing policies are not ambitious enough to meet EU targets. Business Green opines that, “Under a moderate policy scenario, Greece would cut its emissions by 40 percent by 2050 based on 2005 levels, but a more ambitious scenario including 100 percent renewable electricity supply could see a 60-70 percent carbon reduction.”
The principle of using solar energy to boost economy is a remarkable proposition. However, with so many countries in the euro zone that are struggling, who will be in a position to buy Greece’s solar energy? Also the country already faces stiff competition from countries like Scotland, Spain who have massively invested in renewable energy and are already seeing returns.