Agreement on “Project Helios” by year’s end

Some skepticism has greeted the project Helios scheme, which would see Greece become a producer and exporter of photovoltaic energy to other parts of Europe. For the Greeks it would be a vital source of investment and growth in the economy.

Energy Minister George Papacostantinou now claims that a framework for the scheme is on the horizon. Papacostantinou has been quoted by Bloomberg as saying today: “I have spoken with three German ministers now on the project as well as with the EU, and I’m optimistic we can get a framework agreement by the end of the year.”

When the concept was first announced many in the photovoltaic industry greeted it with skepticism. When pv magazine asked Aris Polychronopoulos, the General Manager of Greece’s largest solar installer Biosar, as to how the Helios plan would work, he was less than forthecoming, "you should ask our Minister."

In fact, details of the plan were scarce until very recently. Stelios Psomas from Helapco, the Greek solar industry association, told pv magazine that they were late to be involved in the development process at a late stage. "Project Helios is just a concept at the moment, that was an idea born just a few weeks ago, there is nothing concrete yet. Actually the presentation in Hamburg [at the EU PVSEC] was the first ever document that we’ve seen about this project."

Psomas also said that just how much of the electricity would be physically exported to potential investor countries like Germany is also unclear. "This is still a question as to […] how much of it will be physically exported to Germany or other countries and which part of it would be statistically exported if you like, in the sense that according to European legislation members states can exchange Green Energy among them, in order to reach the renewable targets."

Greece still has very generous feed-in tariff scheme, however development has been constrained by an excessively complicated and costly approval process and now a shortage of funds for investment.

Developer Polychronopoulos is happy with how the industry is developing, without any intervention such as the Helios plan. "Now things are going on well. There are megawatts being installed each month. At the same time there are a lot of applications for rooftops commercial and industrial […] so in quarter four 2012, we see a lot of installations on rooftops in Greece."

The October edition of pv magazine features a photovoltaic market profile of Greece.