ECONOMY

Greek solar capacity doubled last year

Solar power installations in Greece more than doubled last year, driven by the European Union’s highest tariffs even as the government planned a tax on revenue for existing projects.

New photovoltaic capacity was 912 megawatts compared with 425 megawatts in the previous year, taking installations to 1,536 megawatts, according to figures from the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies, a lobby group.

This compares with 624 megawatts operating at the end of 2011.

Greece, which is targeting 2,200 megawatts of solar power by 2020, introduced the above-market rates in 2009 and has become one of Europe’s growth markets for the technology in the last year.

The increase comes in spite of two reductions last year in subsidies paid through a feed-in tariffs and a tax approved in November that reduce revenue to all solar plants by 25 percent to 30 percent.

“Installations rose last year because of the tariffs, which are the highest in the EU,” said Martin Simonek, solar analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“The retroactive cuts have not proved to be very significant in deterring investment, as installs were high in December and January could remain very strong ahead of tariff cuts next month.”

Italy’s Enel Green Power SpA on Wednesday said it started 25 solar plants with 57 megawatts in the country and now operates about 290 megawatts there.

[Bloomberg]