Greece needs to boost its economy. Back in February, Greece caved in to pressure from the EU to cut 15,000 public sector jobs by the end of this year. However, there is another way out of Greece’s economic woes: increasing renewable energy, namely solar energy. Last week, Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos spoke about the Greek government’s plans to produce 100 percent green electricity by 2050. Papademos said green energy investment is a “national priority” to boost the economy.
Greece wants to become the EU’s largest green energy exporter through Project Helios. The plans include increasing Greek solar power production from 206 megawatts (MW) in 2010 to 2.2 gigawatts (GW) by 2020, and up to 10 GW by 2050. The government hopes the plans will attract up to 20 billion euros ($27 billion) of investment. Although Project Helios would be expensive to implement, it would reduce Greece’s carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and would create jobs.
“In the last few years talk has centered on Greece’s fiscal discipline,” Papademos said. “No other OECD country has reduced its deficit by so much so quickly. But fiscal harmonization isn’t enough for development. The energy sector gives Greece an opportunity to become a hub for the European Union and third countries. ”
“The Helios project represents viable development and it will enable Greece to become the largest exporter in the EU of clean energy,” he added.
Günther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Energy, praised Project Helios. “The proposal of Greece to develop the Helios project together with other member states and the European Commission has the potential to be truly groundbreaking,” he said.
“Greece now has to demonstrate that it is possible to exploit the many hours of sunshine that it enjoys and to translate that into an economic benefit for Greece and those European regions that are not quite as sunny,” he added. “Helios is also 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.”
Greece becoming a major exporter of solar power would definitely be a boost for the global renewable energy sector and would prove that the green economy is truly the way forward. Fingers crossed that Greece can actually make good on its plans.
Photo credit: Flickr user, Jimmy_Joe