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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

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.