Greece trails EU in green fuel switch

Greece is trailing the rest of Europe in adopting renewable energy sources while ignoring natural resources on its islands that could generate enough power for the entire nation, experts said yesterday. Lawyers, economists, scientists, academics and environmentalists at an Athens University conference slammed the government for failing to actualize any plans to exploit environmentally friendly energy. Greece has come under pressure for taking too long to draft a power bill at a time when its EU peers seem to be forging ahead in the switch to greener energy. Nikos Charalambidis, Greenpeace’s director in Greece, pointed out that the Public Power Corporation (PPC) continues to invest in petrol-based energy production despite the record-high prices. «PPC is ignoring the fact that the sun and wind are two resources which islands offer in abundance – to an extent which the islands could supply energy for the rest of the country,» Charalambidis said. PPC is the second-largest user of lignite in the European Union and recent data show that coal is likely to fuel its power plants until 2040. Apart from its damage to the environment, use of the energy source is taking a toll on PPC’s profits. According to Eftichios Sartzetakis, assistant professor at the University of Macedonia, PPC was billed 69 million euros in the first nine months of 2005 as part of the EU’s emissions-trading scheme. The scheme, which Greece joined in June, offers companies the ability to emit carbon dioxide in line with set quotas. However, they can buy extra points and up their quotas, if they overshoot targets. As part of the 1997 Kyoto Agreement, Greece is committed to restricting the increase in emission of carbon dioxide to 25 percent by 2010, in comparison to 1990 levels. Figures from the Athens Observatory show that Greece will miss the mark and that the increase is likely to come in closer to 40 percent.