With the support of the Church of Greece, Pendeli Monastery is planning an investment that is seen reaching as much as 1 billion euros in energy production through a photovoltaic park.
According to sources, the two institutions recently issued an invitation for expressions of interest to private investors regarding the exploitation of a 3,000-hectare plot on Mount Pendeli, north of Athens, which is owned by the monastery.
A number of businesses responded to the invitation and an investment plan has been drawn up with the participation of three construction groups and one affiliated company. The groups are currently in the process of hammering out the details of the scheme, with the aim of developing a small part - 10-15 percent - of the entire area in order to build a photovoltaic park on a section of the plot that is not, according to the cadaster, deemed as forestland. In total, investors are hoping that the park will generate up to 300 megawatts annually, while given the magnitude of the investment, they are also hoping that it will be fast-tracked through the usual bureaucracy.
The aim of the Church authorities is to generate significant revenues by selling the right to develop the property, which can then be used to support charitable causes. Likewise, a part of the revenues generated by the private investors will be bound for use in reforestation projects.
According to sources at the interested companies, the Church has assured them that the plot fulfills all of the necessary criteria for the construction of a photovoltaic park, while they are also confident that they will not encounter any problems in terms of licenses.
According to Archimandrite Antonis Avramiotis, who was recently appointed to head the Central Ecclesiastical Financial Service (EKYO), the Church is also exploring the potential of collaboration with private investors for the development of its real estate assets through a tender process in order to increase its revenues directed at its charitable projects and other activities.
Meanwhile, during a recent meeting with Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Archbishop Ieronymos offered the Church?s assistance in the financial crisis through the development of a special fund that will, in the first phase, create a record of the Church?s assets and then draw up a blueprint for their development. Ieronymos also reiterated the Church?s petition for property belonging to the Church, but which has been under the control of the state for the past couple of centuries and is not being exploited, to be returned to the Church so that it may use it as a source of revenue in aid of its charitable causes.
It is worth noting that the estimated 800 properties in the Church?s possession are mostly plots of land and office buildings located mainly in Athens and Thessaloniki. The total assets of the Church are, of course, much greater, but as far as the real estate is concerned, this belongs to various monasteries, parishes and metropolitan churches and are under their control.