As part of the European Union, Greece has been working diligently to meet European Union-wide renewable energy target. For Greece, this means increasing use of renewable energy by 18 percent of 2005 levels by the year 2020. Hydro power has often been seen as the most prominent source of renewable energy being used in the country; however, solar thermal and wind energy system have been on the rise along with geothermal heat. There have been a number of mechanisms put into place by the Greek government to stimulate cleantech growth, although few have been suspended due to the current economic climate in the country.
1) Center for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving. The Center for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving (CRES) is the main Greek body that deals with the promotion of sources of renewable energy and energy conservation. The main objective of CRES is the research, development and promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency applications at the national level. There are a number of divisions of CRES, including Renewable Energy Sources, Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy and Planning, Development Programs, and Financial and Administrative Services. CRES works in a number of renewable energy divisions, including photovoltaic, wind energy, biomass, geothermal, and hydrogen.
2) Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change 2010 Renewable Energy Bill. In 2010, the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change introduced a new renewable energy sources bill is earmarked as a vital step toward a new long-term plan for a sustainable energy policy and the development of the use of renewable energy. This bill ups the target to 40 percent by the year 2020 and surpasses the obligations listed by the European Union Directive for Renewable Energy created in 2009. The bill is hopefully going to send the country toward energy self-sufficiency. According to Tina Birbili, the Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, “[Renewable energy sources are] essential, not only because Greece has a natural abundance of sun, sea and air which she needs to invest in but also because, beginning in 2013, we will need to start paying great penalties for emissions, which will also heavily impact energy prices for consumers.”
3) Using Renewable Energy to Regain Economic Stability. Starting in 2010 and for the next five years, Greece is looking to attract over €45 billion in investments into renewable energy. With the recent economic downturn and high unemployment rates, the government is looking to attract “green investment” to fix the economy. There is a large amount of renewable energy sources in Greece that are still untapped, and now the government wants to make it easier for investors to come in, including a liquefied natural gas and power plant project from Qatar.
4) Renewable Energy Businesses in Greece. There are a number of renewable energy businesses in Greece providing amenities for both the national and international markets. A majority of these businesses focus on solar energy. SolarLogic SA offers high efficiency solar energy products for home and commercial rooftops and solar parks. Bartec Solar Systems Industry is a manufacturer and exporter of solar water heating systems and components. Mavrou Bros Ltd. offers energy efficient HVAC and solar energy systems and have worked with a number of international companies, including LG Electronics and Mitsubishi.
5) Feed-in Tariffs in Greece. Greece has a few renewable energy feed-in tariffs to make it easier for investors to come in. Greece’s New Rooftop Photovoltaic Tariff is actually considered to be the best throughout the European Union. It provides €0.55/kWh, making it one of the highest and rivaling France and Switzerland. There is also a solar photovoltaic feed-in tariff and installation of wind turbines through the use of fixed ten year PPA and feed-in tariffs.
6) High Prevalence of Solar Energy. 99 percent of all private buildings in Greece use solar energy for hot water usage in kitchens, bathrooms, and other appliances. Greece is actually second in the entire world (behind Cyprus) to solar energy use. The reason for the high prevalence of solar energy can be attributed to a number of things. One of them is that unlike other European countries, like Italy and Spain, Greece does not have laws making it obligatory to utilize solar panels for water. This makes installation and operation a lot less expensive and more available to families. In Pefki, a town outside Athens, a number of social housing units received a “solar kit,” and now the town is known as the “shine floor” due to all the reflective solar panels.
7) Office Building Supplies 95 Percent of its own Energy. A five story building in Greece is slated to be one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the world. The building is said to produce absolutely zero emissions, not use any fossil fuels to run, and supplies 95 percent of its own energy through the use of solar and geothermal energy sources. It is a $2.1 million project that is said to pay for itself in approximately ten years. In the summer, the building kept itself at 72F at about $14 a day which is great savings for a large building.
8 ) Creation of Largest Photovoltaic Solar Park in World. The Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou announced in January of 2011 the creation of a solar photovoltaic park in Kozani. It is slated to be the largest in the world, providing an energy capacity of 200 megawatts. The investment costs around €600 million, employ over 500 employees, and reduce pollution by 300,000 tons annually. The park will provide enough energy for 55,000 homes.
9) Biggest Solar Farm in the World Possibly Coming to Greece. Public Power Corporation made an announcement in early 2011 that they are looking to build a large solar photovoltaic farm in Greece. The farm would have a generation capacity of megawatts and would be placed in Kozani. Public Power Corporation stated that this farm will not only reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 300,000 tons, but it will create 350 temporary and 200 new jobs in Greece. This solar farm will be larger than the current largest solar photovoltaic farm – 80 megawatt Sarnia photovoltaic power plant in Canada.
10) €12 Billion Invested into Environment and Energy to Boost Economy. In July 2010, Greece made the plan to invest €12 billion on a number of renewable energy projects by 2015 to assist with the economy. The objective of this investment is to attract further private investment and increase economic growth.
Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org