NEWS

Energy self-sufficiency for homes not feasible in Greece

Theoretically, individuals concerned about climate change and rising fuel prices have the option of providing for their own energy needs. Although there are mixed renewable energy systems that, used in combination with conventional energy sources, can almost do away with electricity and heating fuel bills, the current procedure treats homeowners applying for a photovoltaic cell no differently than a commercial firm doing the same, subjecting them to the same tangled red tape. Theoretically, individuals may even sell energy to the Public Power Corporation (PPC), particularly in periods of high demand. For although PPC was repeatedly forced to cut off the supply due to increased demand this summer, it has still not learned its lesson. Despite the prime minister’s commitment last spring to take steps to fight the effects of climate change, people applying for a permit for a photovoltaic cell to supply their own homes with electricity will need to join the social security fund for the self-employed (OAEE), issue invoices and wait for inspection by the prefectural services and the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE). At a recent Ecofin meeting, Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis raised the question of a VAT reduction on farm equipment and safety helmets, but omitted to mention photovoltaic systems. Greenpeace Hellas’s Nikos Haralambidis said VAT charges on PPC bills are 9 percent but 19 percent on photovoltaic cells, among the highest in Europe. A few years ago a relatively small firm opened up in Greece to market a mixed household energy system for heating and cooling. It is a simple combination of geothermal and solar collectors that provides autonomy particularly in times of high demand. Mechanical engineer Alexis Paizis, whose firm is housed in a building with an efficient autonomous energy system, says householders are discouraged from investing in this technology. Although permits are easily acquired (from prefectural industry departments), things become more complicated in the next stage. The cost of the mechanical infrastructure varies from 20,000 euros up to 40,000 euros if they include passive energy-saving systems such as double-glazing or other exterior insulation. No incentives are given in terms of loans or subsidies. It seems the rhetoric about the war against carbon dioxide does not seem to apply to ordinary people who still continue to be treated as consumers.