Greeks Pledge $1.4bn Toward Solar, Hope to Fight Economic Woes

solar power greece photo

Image credit: Michael Mahlberg, used under Creative Commons license.

With young Greek's abandoning Athens for simpler life in the country, and the nation's debt woes causing major international turmoil, Greece is looking for light at the end of the rather dismal economic tunnel that it finds itself in. And some are hoping that light will be in the form of solar panel, as the country's beleagured government has just announced that it will fast-track three solar photovoltaic projects with a total investment of 1 billion euros ($1.37 billion) in the hope of reviving its struggling economy.

Of course with the Solyndra bankruptcy making headlines in the States, caution is warranted regarding any "fast-tracking" of major Government investments—whether they are in clean energy or not. Nevertheless, given the astounding growth of the solar industry internationally, and Greece's favorable position in Europe in terms of solar resources, it makes sense that the Greek's would look to the sun to help power an economic revival.

Bloomberg reports that the Greek push for solar will see over 450MW of solar capacity added to the nation's grid, and that over 600MW will be added in total by the end of this year. But the move is not without its critics:

"Greece is in no economic shape to pay for a solar boom and the EU has already called for a reduction in the feed-in- tariffs," Radoia said. Greece has resisted those calls as it hopes the solar sector can draw investments and fuel economic growth. Earlier this month, Greek Energy Minister George Papaconstantinou said Europe needs an "urgent" agreement that would allow sunnier countries in the south to export solar power to those in the north.

There's a "clear need, especially in Germany," for imports of renewable energy from southern Europe given the country's vow to abandon atomic power, and political turmoil in the Middle East, Papaconstantinou said Sept. 5 in Hamburg.

Exactly how Europe's clean energy industry will weather the current economic turmoil and push for austerity remains to be seen. But given that solar is expected to be as cheap as coal in parts of Europe by 2013, it makes sense for countries to jockey now for a leadership position.

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