Greece looks to finalize US$27 billion solar project by end of the year

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According to Bloomberg, George Papaconstantinou, Energy Minister of Greece, advised that working with European Union officials and energy companies, he expects to see an agreement finalized by the end of the year for the country’s US$27 billion solar power project. The initiative aims to boost the Greek economy, which stands on the brink of shrinking by 5% in 2011 as its government cuts spending so that it can avoid defaulting on its bonds.

Bringing Greece’s Project Helios to fruition would include the cooperation of foreign investors to install as many as 10GW of solar panels in Greece.  “I have spoken with three German ministers now on the project as well as with the EU, and I’m optimistic we can get a framework agreement by the end of the year,” stated Papaconstantinou.

Papaconstantinou met with German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler who made the trip to Greece with over 70 company officials from the energy industry. Roesler is set to sign the agreement today, which outlines the German-Greek cooperation to cut the bureaucracy and support the renewable energy industry.

Moritz von Plate, CEO of Solar Lite, was one of the company officials who travelled to Greece with Roesler and he confirmed that the interest in solar technology and solar power plants in Greece is high.

“In Greece there is great interest in solar energy. This was clearly evident in many interesting conversations. To the problems of cumbersome approval process and financing of security are solved, was the general tenor of all circle participants. Finding solutions together was the goal of this trip. Now we need to actively work on solutions and projects… Greece intends to expand the solar energy until 2020, the share of renewable energies in meeting the total energy demand increased from the current 7% to 18%, among other things, using the existing feed-in law.”

Frank Asbeck, CEO of Solarworld told reporters in Athens that Europe’s solar industry is ready to contribute 5% of the estimated €20 billion needed as an investment in Helios with EU funding covering  the remaining deficit needed for the solar project.

In September, Greece advised that it would put three solar projects worth €1 billion on a fast track for approval including the 200MW Kozani plant, the 131MW Solar Cells Hells Group project and Silcio’s 127MW installation. Bloomberg went on to note that it estimates Greece may add as much as 600MW of solar capacity this year, four times what was developed in 2010.

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