ECONOMY

Papaconstantinou presents solar energy program

Greece on Monday unveiled an ambitious plan for the development of solar energy systems, with investment totaling about 20 billion euros.

Speaking at the 26th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition in Hamburg, Germany, Environment Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou said the program, titled Helios, envisaged the installation of panels on areas totaling 20,000 hectares and targeting a capacity of up to 10,000 megawatts through the development of mechanisms of cooperation with other European Union countries in renewable energy sources.

He said Greece?s main comparative advantage for such investments was the long periods of sunlight (about 300 days a year), which produce higher rates of return than in Northern European countries. The country already ranks sixth among 35 countries in terms of attractiveness for photovoltaic investments.

Papaconstantinou said Greece would prepare special areas for such projects fully licensed so that investors would not have to get entangled in red tape.

The full development of the plan will require the strengthening of grid connections with neighboring countries, as well as those of the islands with mainland Greece.