1 May 2007 - 09:37
  • News Code: 103548

The year 2020 could see enough solar power production around the Mediterranean to power 26 million homes in that region, according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association.

That was the conclusion reached at the EPIA’s Mediterranean conference last week in Athens. Greece, while trailing other European countries such as Spain and Germany in its solar incentives programs, has begun to legislate support for solar power, especially on its islands. The country mandated in June 2006 that solar reach 700 megawatts of installed solar power by 2020, though the EPIA predicted the capacity likely would exceed 1,200 megawatts by then.

The June 2006 Law for Renewable Energy Sources also sets a feed-in tariff for solar energy production: Individuals and businesses can sell the electricity they produce to the Greek grid for between 54 and 68 cents per kilowatt hour, and their up-front investments in a solar energy system are eligible for up to 60-percent subsidization.

“Solar power could provide electricity to half a million of households in Greece by 2020, provided of course that an adequate promotion towards the end-user market is actively put in place,“ according to a statement from the EPIA.

“In Greece, the new law (for renewable energy sources) makes it much easier to get installation permission of renewable energy sources especially for small units, while the price for solar kilowatt hour has increased six times. But ... it is very important that there are responsible public services to implement in the right way avoiding bureaucratic barriers for investors,“ Greek parliamentarian Kyriakos Mitsotakis said at the conference, according to EPIA.

However, with a little help, solar has a lot of potential in Greece, the leaders said -- especially since it is one of the sunniest countries in Europe.

“The Greek government is willing to attract investors from the PV sector. To make it more attractive for them ... the government is ready to include renewable energies and in particular photovoltaic in its upcoming law on land planning,“ the Greek vice minister for development, Ioannis Papathanassiou, said at the conference, according to an EPIA statement.

Throughout the conference, Greek and other European lawmakers emphasized solar’s potential for employment and as an investment opportunity, according to the EPIA.

Greece has been using solar power since the 1970s. “The use of electric heaters in almost every Greek household, in combination with the oil crisis, and the rising price of electricity during this period, provided the background for the solar market to develop. EBHE--the Greek Solar Industry Association -- was created in 1978,“ according to the country’s Center for Renewable Energy Sources.

“Until 1987 the market was steadily rising. Between 1984 and 1986 a large advertising campaign supported by the Greek government, combined with financial incentives, boosted the sales of glazed solar collectors up to 218,000 square meters,“ the center added.

However, in 1987 building rates slowed, oil prices went down and electricity prices stayed low, preventing the solar market from growing further, according to the center.

But just as experts predict a bright future for the Greek solar industry, things are looking sunny for solar in the rest of the Mediterranean region as well.

“In 2006, EPIA estimates that photovoltaic energy supplied 400 gigawatt hours of electricity all over the Mediterranean, while it expects that in 2010 it will amount to 5 terawatt hours and 78 terawatt hours in 2020. In particular, this could have very positive impact on the environment as it could enable saving 47 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2020,“ the organization said.

By the close of the conference, the 30 participating countries, from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East resolved “to set national and regional priorities in terms of applications, to promote and coordinate a regional policy framework and to create an aggregation of market opportunities“ to attract investors and manufacturers.

 

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News Code 103548

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