Why go to Greece? For the sunshine, naturally.

Seeking Alpha, an excellent investment reporting, finance and economics blog has an interesting article about the Greek Solar energy market titled Solar: Greece Offers Bait, But Few Takers.  Apparently, despite some of the most generous feed-in tariff rates in Europe, uptake for new solar energy projects has been slow.

From the article:

Under the new program, systems that are greater than 10 kilowatts but less than 10 megawatts would have tariffs range from 40 to 50 euro cents per kilowatt hour. The government is offering to provide grants that would offset 40 percent of project costs more than €100,000.

Sadly, the reason for the sluggish response is what you’ve probably already guessed:

“It has excellent solar conditions. But bureaucracy is so high, it’s incredible,” said Daniela Schreiber, head of strategic operations at Germany-based EuPD Research, during a solar conference in San Francisco last week.

Greece first launched a feed-in tariff program in 2006, but it hasn’t been able to run it smoothly. The government had about 3 gigawatts worth of applications waiting to be processed when it announced a new version of the program in January this year.

(Here’s a link to a Greek Government PDF with the high level details of the program.)

Electricity generation and distribution has traditionally been massive, bureaucratic and slow to respond to anything.  Combine that with a government that is slow to move and you have all the conditions for entrepreneurs to go insane while waiting for approvals.  There is nothing more frustrating than applications vanishing for months on end into an opaque bureaucracy.

Still… for 55 euro cents per kilowatt hour I would be willing to put up with allot of grief and frustration, especially with you look at the amazing Greek solar resource.

Solar Resource: Greece

Solar Resource: Greece

More details can be found at PVGIS (European solar resource data), although I found the way they model DNI to be counter-integrative after getting used to how NR-Can and NREL do it.

The powers that be here in Ontario, just having passed the new Green Energy Act, are trying to make a good faith effort to keep this sort of bureaucratic stalling from happening here.  Under the previous Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP), there were all sorts of limits, hurdles and quotas that kept the program from really catapulting Ontario into an Renewables leadership provision, and much of that has been fixed in the new program (hopefully).  The Greek incentives are too high not to have some effect, but it’s a shame to see such an amazing program torpedoed by institutional inertia and a lack of accountability.

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