News / Economy

Greeks Look to Sun For Economic Salvation

World Wildlife Fund ranked power plants like this one outside Kozani in northern Greece, which generate 70 percent of the country's power, among top polluters in the EU, Sept. 29, 2011.
World Wildlife Fund ranked power plants like this one outside Kozani in northern Greece, which generate 70 percent of the country's power, among top polluters in the EU, Sept. 29, 2011.
Henry Ridgwell

Every year, millions of tourists flock to Greece for one reason: sunshine. But now the Greeks and their German neighbors to the cloudier, richer north are looking skyward for economic rays of light.

Named after the sun god of Greek mythology, "Project Helios" is an ambitious new plan to kick-start economic growth. The project would see billions of euros invested in building the world's largest solar fields across Greece for energy sales to northern Europe.

According to Lazaros Maloutas, mayor of Kozani in northern Greece -- one of the plan's proposed sites -- Project Helios would benefit everyone.

"This is an energy route, it’s always been the center for energy in Greece," he says, explaining that 20,000 hectares of nearby Lignite or "brown coal" mines would be covered with solar panels. "We especially welcome developments in renewable sources of energy. On top of that, we welcome the investment because the effect of the austerity measures here has been great."

With an estimated cost of $28 billion, foreign investment will be vital, and persuading businessmen to invest in Greek sunshine could be a tough sell. Critics are quick to point out that Greece is ranked 109th in the World Bank’s "ease of doing business" index -- below the likes of Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea and even Yemen.

But on a visit to Greece earlier this month, German economics and technology minister Philipp Roesler expressed support for Project Helios. Germany, which recently elected to phase out nuclear energy in the wake of Fukushima, needs alternative energy, and Project Helios would aim to generate 2.2 gigawatts of electricity -- a hundred-fold increase on current levels -- by 2020.

Of that, exports to Germany could reach 15,000 megawatts.

Aristomenis Syngros, Executive Chairman of "Invest in Greece," the government agency tasked with bringing in foreign funds, reminds investors the project's hefty pricetag is precisely why it could pose one pathway out of the debt crisis.

"We need new investments, we need new money," he says, adding that there are two primary ways to eliminate debt. "One is to sell debt or to minimize the debt, the other is to maximize the GDP. The bigger the GDP is, the smaller the debt. Of course the only way to get out of the crisis is investments, investments, investments."

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.