A team of local experts have built a five-story building in Athens with its own autonomous energy supply – the first of its kind in Europe. Experts from the National Center of Scientific Research (NCSR), the Development Ministry’s General Secretariat for Research and Technology and energy company Sol Energy Hellas have pooled their resources to create a 600-square -meter building that draws more than 95 percent of its energy needs from its solar and geothermal energy installations. Geothermal power is generated by heat stored beneath the earth’s surface. Located in the southern Athens suburb of Palaio Faliron, the inauguration of the energy project, which houses Sol Energy Hellas’s offices, will take place tomorrow after four years in the making. One of the largest obstacles experts came up against in executing the project was proving to government officials that the building did not need access to all state energy companies. However, the Environment Ministry forced the installation of a natural gas system, as this is required by law. High-performance solar panels that heat water but are also able to cool down the building and shallow geothermal equipment used to control room temperatures are among the features of the project. Experts estimate that less than 10 years will be needed to recover the money invested in the power equipment. In Greece, solar power systems are used almost exclusively to power hot water systems in homes. »We have 3 million square meters (in Greece) of installed solar panels, saving 2,000 megawatts of energy which amount to two power plants the size of those in Megalopolis,» said Vasillis Belesiotis of the NCSR.