Germany and European Commission help Greece expand renewable energy sector

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Germany, the European Commission and Greece have signed a joint declaration of intent to reform and expand the Greek renewable energy sector.

All parties concerned aim to help Greece to profit both from the recent fall in technology costs, especially in the PV sector, and from Germany and the EU's experience in the renewable energy sector, thus making the country fitter to address the challenges of renewable energy expansion.

At the signing on 27 March the secretary of the German Federal Environment Ministry, Jürgen Becker, emphasised the potential and opportunities offered by expanding renewable energy in Greece. “Over the years Germany has gained valuable experience in promoting renewable energy. In the last two years we have more than halved support costs for photovoltaics to the current level of between €0.11 and €0.16 per kilowatt hour.”

The European Commission's Task Force for Greece also underlined the importance of the project: “If we work together to improve conditions in Greece, the country can soon become a model of renewable electricity generation which can practically compete with conventional sources. Energy policy in the whole of Europe will benefit from this.”

Although Greece has far more solar radiation than Germany, its support costs for PV are significantly higher, which the Greek government last year proposed on cutting.

In November 2012, the Greek Parliament passed an austerity package which included a tax on existing solar power plants.

In its proposed state, the tax will affect solar plants connected to the grid between 2007 and 2011, which will result in revenue cut by around 25%. The revenue from solar plants connected from January to August 2012 will drop by 35%.

In response, law firm Metaxas and Associates, representing several foreign and Greek renewable energy investors lodged a complaint with the European Commission on the retroactive taxation.

At the end of November, Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Energy Producers also filed a complaint to the European Commission but in this instance it was against the country’s Variable Cost Recovery Mechanism which acts in favour of natural gas producers and to the detriment of renewable energy companies.

The project, scheduled to last up to three years, is an important element of the EC's assistance package for Greece. The Task Force for Greece aims to help stimulate investment in various branches by providing technical assistance.

The task force stressed: “If we set the right course, renewable energy can provide vital impetus for growth in Greece.”

Becker added: “In Germany, we have already created around 380,000 jobs through renewable energies. In 2011 alone, we avoided fossil energy imports amounting to €25 billion through the combined use of renewable energies and energy efficiency measures. This highlights the potential contained in the expansion of renewables. For the Greek islands especially, renewable energy can be a real alternative to expensive diesel generators.”

Within the framework of the task force, the Germany's Environment Ministry has taken on the role of domain leader for the field of renewable energy. Together with the EC, the ministry will finance the first phase of the project until 2015.

Greece now has a total installed PV capacity of 1.732GW.

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