EU serious about Helios

While it has always been a plan that walked the line between being ambitious at best and fanciful at worst, the multi-billion euro project Helios looks like it is being supported by the European Commission, as part of a plan to stabilize the euro.

The Project Helios would see 10 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaics installed in Greece. The electricity, meanwhile, would be delivered to nations providing credit, to ensure it remains solvent. As part of deal that would increase the size of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), Greece has agreed to pay back 15 billion euros of its debt in photovoltaic-generated power.

The relevant part of the European Council communiqué reads: "Greece commits future cash flows from project Helios or other privatization revenue in excess of those already included in the adjustment program to further reduce indebtedness of the Hellenic Republic by up to 15 billion euros with the aim of restoring the lending capacity of the EFSF."

The first details regarding project Helios emerged at the 26th EU PVSEC trade-show in September, where Greek Energy Minister George Papaconstantinou gave a presentation outlining the concept.

The electricity produced by installations under the Helios scheme may not be physically exported to countries like Germany, but rather statistically exported, the Greek PV association’s Stelio Psomas told pv magazine. "According to European legislation member states can exchange green energy among them, in order to reach their renewable energy targets."

Psomas elaborated that grid limitations would limit potential physical exports unless it was enhanced, requiring further investment. "At the moment the existing networks from Greece to the Balkans and then to Central and Western Europe, they can facilitate two to three GW of PV energy. In order to export more than that more grid will have to be constructed in the coming years."

Greek Energy Minister Papaconstantinou has previously said that he hopes for an agreement on project Helios to be made by the end of the year.

Some photovoltaic integrators are not waiting for any formal agreements before investigating potential opportunities under the Helios scheme.

Conergy has told pv magazine board member Alexander Gorski has been traveling with the delegation of the German minister of economics, Mr. Philip Roesler to Greece, to investigate further opportunities for the company there. Conergy is one of the largest project developers in Greece.