OPINION

High time to be weaned off oil

In spite of oil crises creating huge problems for the Greek economy, the country continues to behave as if it were an oil-producing state rather than a consumer. Greece languishes at the bottom of European Union tables when it comes to energy production from renewable sources even though the Greek climate is ideal for such ventures. For example, our wind parks produce just 600 mW while, in contrast, the small northern country of Denmark produces five times that amount. Often-cloudy Germany, in turn, last year installed 1,000 more photovoltaic systems than sun-kissed Greece. The absence of alternative sources of energy has far-reaching consequences. The toll on the environment from burning fossil fuels is but one negative effect. The second is that Greece is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, the blueprint for the reduction of dangerous emissions, and every infringement of that agreement carries a hefty fine. Last year alone, the Public Power Corporation (PPC) had to pay 60 million euros in fines. The third, and equally significant, effect is that the Greek economy is completely exposed to fluctuating oil prices. The government has an obligation to seriously examine ways to reduce the economy’s dependence on oil. This means it must attract investment to alternative energy sources. It is no longer viable for Greece to subsidize electric energy production for a mere 10-year period, when almost all other countries are doing so for 15-25 years. Nor can tax relief for households purchasing photovoltaic systems hover at 3-8 percent, whereas countries such as Austria give a 25-percent break. Greece’s dependence on oil is taking a big toll on the economy on a daily basis. The government’s intentions and programs may be well and good, but what is needed is strict procedures and a specific timetable for further development.