ECONOMY

In Brief

Red tape holds back green energy projects Greece, one of Europe’s most windy and sunny countries, risks missing its green energy targets and losing billions of euros in investment as a result of bureaucratic obstacles, a top industry player said yesterday. Greece’s new Socialist government has a target to produce one-fifth of the country’s energy from clean sources by 2020, said George Peristeris, chairman of the Association of Renewable Electricity Producers. «This target is feasible, provided the government goes about it seriously today, as we speak,» Peristeris told Reuters in an interview. Greece now produces just over 3 percent of its energy from wind and solar power, according to Greenpeace. The government is set to unveil a law to boost the renewable energy sector next month. But red tape, legal confusion and local protests have been dogging the industry for years. Authorities sit on a pile of more than 1,000 unprocessed applications for green energy projects, 90 percent of which concern wind farms. «Licensing is a real pain, it takes incredibly long,» Peristeris said. (Reuters) Marfin eyes organic growth, acquisitions Marfin Investment Group SA, southeast Europe’s biggest buyout fund, will use the $650 million in cash it holds for organic growth and possible acquisitions, Chief Executive Officer Dennis Malamatinas said. Marfin may buy stakes in companies through Vivartia SA, its Athens-based food retail unit, though «we are not looking at anything immediately,» Malamatinas said in an interview at a conference in Istanbul yesterday. Vivartia already operates in 29 markets, he said. In March this year, Marfin Investment came to an agreement with the Greek government to buy the country’s unprofitable flag carrier Olympic Airlines SA for a price of 177 million euros (266 million US dollars). (Bloomberg) Turkey’s tourists The number of foreign visitors to Turkey rose 5.2 percent year-on-year in September to 3.14 million with the global recovery showing signs of recovery, the Tourism Ministry said yesterday. In the first nine months of the year the number of foreign visitors, an important source of foreign currency for Turkey, rose 1.47 percent to 21.83 million. A total of 26.336 million tourists visited Turkey in 2008, and 21.830 million in the first nine months of this year, making it one of the top destinations in the Mediterranean. (Reuters) Nuclear power RWE has changed its mind about Bulgaria’s Belene nuclear power plant project, Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov said yesterday, indicating the German utility may walk out of the project. RWE was not immediately available for comment. Traikov told parliament that Bulgaria’s new center-right government would open a tender to pick more investors for the 2,000-megawatt plant currently under construction on the Danube River as part of plans to reduce the state’s 51 percent stake and raise funding. The new cabinet of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, which won July general elections, has launched a review of Belene, questioning the need for new power capacity as well as costs which it said could reach 10 billion euros (15 billion US dollars). The plant has also faced opposition from environmental organizations. (Reuters)