Solar in Greece Still Waiting To Take Off

Almost two months ago, I made a post about Greece’s stagnant solar market,a case study of what happens when remarkable solar potential andincentives are hampered by a sluggish bureaucracy. In light of therelative ease with which it is to go solar in states like California orNew Jersey, I thought it might be interesting to revisit thissun-wealthy nation, especially because, as the L.A. Times pointed out this weekend, buying solar panels in America is cheaper than ever before, with prices poised to fall further.

The findings, however, are not heartening for solar in Greece. The Boston Globe reportsthat plans to build a 50-megawatt solar park in the southern Hellenictown of Megalopolis—the country’s biggest solar energy project—wererecently blocked by local game hunters, despite the solar park’sability to mitigate the polluting effects of the power plants expellingsmoke and dust nearby. (The hunters oppose the project because buildingit would destroy much forest cover.) Estimated to cost around $280million to $349 million, the Megalopolis project was slated to becomeone of the largest solar energy initiatives in the world—but for twoyears electricity operator PPC has held onto its production licensesand left the site untouched, as the hunters’ appeal has yet to see acourt ruling.

Still, hope remains in the air for the future of the Greek solar market.

“In the past 15 years, Greece has been the sleepinggiant of European renewables,’’ said Nikos Vassilakos, who heads aGreek and a European association of investors in renewables. “Nowsomething is moving, maybe at a slow pace, but investors have learnt tobe patient.’’

Greece is notorious for its long licensing procedure, which Vassilakos estimated at three to four years on average.

Granted, Vassilakos has a vested interest in Greek clean energy, sowe might not be able to take his word at face value. However, withgenerous feed-in tariffs of 0.55€/kWh for solar panel installations upto 10 kW and over $5.65 billion worth of renewable energy applicationswaiting for the Greek energy regulator to give the nod, it’s clear thatthe interest—from public and private entities alike—hasn’t waned much,despite the setbacks. Do you think solar in Greece will eventually takeoff to Spanish or Germanic proportions—or will it remain mired in redtape?

Elsewhere, however, the process of outfitting your roof with solarpanels has met with less difficulty. The United States solar market inparticular has made great strides over the past few years, and with acombination of falling solar panel prices, some generous statesubsidies and a sweet Federal Investment Tax Credit—it’s not a bad timefor some consumers and businesses to get solar. (If you’re a Californiaresident, you might be able to save 50% or more on a solar system.) Andhey! This doesn’t even have to come from us—just read the news.

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