Solar power still under a cloud

Greece produces only a fraction of the world’s solar energy, despite year-round sunny weather, and a law on renewable energy sources has failed to stir interest from potential consumers, environmentalists Greenpeace said yesterday. According to Greenpeace, Greece currently has the facilities to produce 5 megawatts of solar energy per year. Germany, a considerably cloudier country, produces 1,200 MW of solar power annually. Global energy production from solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in 2005 reached 5,000 MW. «The government must give extra incentives to consumers, such as generous tax breaks, to install systems for renewable energy sources,» Greenpeace said yesterday. Households are able to install PV systems on their rooftops and sell the power produced to the Public Power Corporation (PPC) on a 20-year contract. Critics say, however, that the procedure is complex and that the cost of installing equipment remains high. Greenpeace has called on the government to drop the tax rate applicable on equipment for renewable sources in a move it says will also help create jobs. If the tax rate is lowered, the group says, some 4,000 new jobs will be created and 90 million euros in spending on electricity will be saved. Experts estimate that Greece could cover one third of its total energy needs through solar power. Greece is among the few European countries which are not investing heavily in production facilities and technologies. «At the same time, political support for the development of solar energy has led to far-reaching promotion frameworks being put in place in a number of countries, notably Germany and Japan,» Greenpeace added. The European PV industry in 2005 is estimated to be worth more than 5 billion euros. «There is also evidence of new enthusiasm for solar power in some of the most promising potential world markets, such as China,» the group added.