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Another Tragedy In Greece

Originally published on Lenz Blog.
By Karl-Friedrich Lenz

No, I am not talking about the default. Greece has failed to meet a payment to the IMF today.

This post is about the complete shutdown of new solar energy in Greece.

A couple of numbers show the extent of that collapse (from PV Magazine):

In 2012, Greece added 890 MW. In 2013, 1047 MW. And then the numbers completely collapsed to only 13 MW in 2014. This year has seen 7 MW from January to April, with zero in March and April.

So the 2014 record is only about one percent of the 2013 record.

A couple of years ago, there was talk about a “Project Helios,” which wanted to install 10 GW of solar PV capacity for export to other EU member states. The EU commission held a conference on the topic with Commissioner Oettinger speaking there.

That would have been nice. As I noted earlier commenting about an open letter by the Dutch GEZEN foundation on the Helios project, it is probably easier to pull off large scale solar projects in Greece than in Northern Africa, for various reasons.

I don’t know why solar in Greece fell off a cliff like this. They have great solar resources. Solar is cheap now.

But it might of course be caused by the insecurity and turmoil over the bailout. Since Greece just went into default, people are unable to get their own money out of the banks, and it’s anybody’s guess how these questions will be resolved in the coming months and years, clearly this is a massive problem. It certainly doesn’t help with pulling off something like the Helios project, or even just a normal development of these excellent solar resources.

And I am not going to add my voice to the many who already are writing about the bailout, at least not here.

All I want to do is point out the unfortunate development. As far as I know this is the greatest collapse of solar capacity development anywhere so far.

It even beats the German market. Germany went down about 75% in a couple of years. That’s bad, but not as impressively horrible as going down 99%.

Whatever caused this collapse, it shows that lower solar prices don’t automatically mean more installations. Greece wants to build a lignite plant right now instead.

And while other countries now don’t have Greece’s financial problems, that might change in the future. Once climate change and a couple of wars caused by the resulting famines and refugee waves hit in earnest, it might become more difficult to pull off the transition to solar and other renewable energy, even at still lower prices of solar.

Install it while you can.

Reprinted with permission.

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