ECONOMY

No more coal for Greece

The breaking of the $100 per barrel barrier by oil on global markets, even with a devalued dollar, the attributing of extreme weather phenomena to carbon dioxide and the reduction of oil reserves have led to the greater application of alternative energy forms, especially those free from carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. People are already installing everywhere photovoltaic systems and wind power generators, are producing biofuels, utilizing geothermal energy and reverting to nuclear power as a a solution that is free from CO2 and able to cover the quantities that only thermal units can provide. They are also trying to limit the waste of energy by reducing thermal loss in buildings, installing low-energy light bulbs etc. However, initial optimism has been replaced by the realization that alternative sources cannot provide the quantities required and satisfy the needs of today. Therefore a combination of energy sources, including nuclear energy, is being sought. Yet the bad publicity the latter received during the Cold War and mainly the serious accident at Chernobyl in 1986 have turned the majority of public opinion against nuclear energy, with Greece leading the way at a 75 percent rate. By contrast, its supporters argue that over the last 30 years security systems have improved and fourth-generation reactors are safe. Coal has also been proposed. But why? What alternative solution does it offer when it emits the same quantities of CO2. So which form will the solution of multiple sources take? Finland, a small country of 5.5 million people, does not possess any conventional fuel reserves, apart from waterfalls and its forests, which cover 30 percent of its needs. The remaining 70 percent is covered by imports of oil, coal, natural gas, uranium and electricity. Renewable sources account for 25 percent against an EU average of 10 percent. On the other hand Greece remains one of the few countries without a nuclear power station. Our only hope lies with Public Power Corporation President Takis Athanassopoulos, who said that «the only options available are coal or nuclear plants as, in the medium term, lignite is running out and natural gas is expensive.» We have to face the new reality without party confrontations and by explaining to the people what is being done elsewhere.