CrisisWatch

Lights off for solar in Greece

By Michalis Prodromou*

The sector of renewables in Greece has been dramatically hit by a relentless offensive targeting environmental and green energy policies. All recent governments have offered strong support to the lignite-based electricity model (Greece is the 3rd largest lignite producer in the EU), both by planning the construction of two new lignite plants (Ptolemaida V and Meliti II, 660MW and 440MW capacity), and by seeking to extend the operation of old, inefficient plants (Ptolemaida III). Ironically, the highlight of the desperate effort to perpetuate the misconception that lignite is still a cheap fuel has been the attempt to obtain free CO2 emissions allowances, regardless of the loss in public revenues that this will cause. Exemptions have been sought from other pieces of EU legislation, such as the Industrial Emissions Directive and the Seville process, which aims at revising the permissible emissions ceilings.

The period since 2013 has been marked by the downgrading of the renewables sector, mainly due to the instability that successive alterations to the support schemes have caused among investors. These have hit particularly the solar market, where approvals of new projects have been suspended since 2012, while in 2014 and 2015 only 17MW and 10MW[1], respectively, of new installations have been added to the electricity generation mix.

Graph: New installed capacity in Greece since 2010

As a result, the much-needed employment the PV sector offered has practically fallen to zero:

 
 

Graph: Employment in the PV sector (direct and indirect)

 
 

The crisis in the solar sector is so deep, that the net metering scheme, which was introduced in 2014 and has indeed included several positive elements, has failed to restore investor confidence and pv market growth.

 

* Michalis Prodromou is Senior Energy Advisor at WWF Greece

 
 

 

 

[1] Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies. (2016). PV market statistics [in Greek]. http://helapco.gr/wp-content/uploads/pv-stats_greece_2015_10Feb2016.pdf

 

 

Last modified onThursday, 01 September 2016 12:26
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