ECONOMY

Greece’s solar power prospects

Greece accounts for 27 percent of Europe’s solar thermal systems (STS) market, and has an installed capacity of more than 3 million square meters of solar panels, according to the Center for Renewable Energy Sources (CRES). Annual sales are estimated at 150,000-200,000 square meters, of which about 95 percent are residential installations. About 20 percent of Greek households have installed STS, and CRES believes annual sales can be increased to 800,000 sq.m. by 2010. Greece’s total installed capacity is the second largest in Europe after Germany’s 3.7 million sq.m.; Austria is third with about 2.4 million sq.m. Greek STS manufacturers today are considered among world leaders, exporting considerable quantities of high-quality, low-cost and long-life products (offering in most cases guarantees of more than 20 years), CRES says. The industry is seen with significant growth prospects in residential but also larger installations such as hotels, hospitals and industrial plants. The expense for a typical residential installation is around 1,000 euros, and has a short paying-off period given its zero operating costs compared to the cost of 26 euro cents for an electric installation heating 80 liters of water to 50 degrees Celsius. CRES estimates the average saving per four-member household at 1,400 kWh annually. But STS can also be used for heating and cooling and power production. CRES is among 50 organizations and firms from 10 European Union members participating in Soltherm Europe, a project aiming at the creation of network for the promotion of STS. Soltherm was declared the best project for the promotion of renewable energy sources for 2003, at an EU-sponsored conference in Berlin a month ago. Further information may be obtained at www.soltherm.org, and from Giorgos Markoyiannakis, tel 210.660.3286, fax 210.660.3305, or www.cres.gr.