Ambitious Greek renewable power projects aimed at reducing the country’s dependence on energy imports from Russia will be on hold for some time, as the threat of exit from the euro prompts investors to delay initiatives.
Greece has submitted proposals on economic reforms in a last-ditch effort to secure a bailout from international creditors and prevent financial meltdown.
Even if the country’s banks reopen – after being shut since 29 June – they are unlikely to be in a position to provide the type of project financing needed for wind and solar farms.
Two investment sources familiar with the plans said at least four major solar and wind projects in Greece had stalled.
“Business development decisions are on hold at the moment. There is too much risk,” one of the sources said.
The other added: “Even if there is a resolution, (with Greece’s creditors), I don’t think anyone will be in a hurry to kickstart projects.”
Greece emerged last year from six years of recession that wiped out a quarter of its economy. But economic growth has again come to a virtual standstill this year amid doubt over whether its new leftist government could reach agreement with creditors to stave off insolvency.
The European Union is pushing renewable energy development to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and wean the bloc from oil and gas imports, especially from Russia.
Renewables are particular important for Greece, which has ample sun and wind and suffers from its dependence on costly imported fuel. Its target has been to generate nearly 40 percent of its electricity through renewables by 2020, double the overall target set by Brussels for the EU as a whole.
However, due to the cuts in investment, research consultancy Frost & Sullivan forecasts that electricity generated from renewable energy sources in Greece will account for just 17 or 18 percent of its energy mix this year and grow only to 20 percent by 2020.
Industry players say Greece has already been cutting subsidies and incentives for renewables developers for some years now, as have other European countries hit by austerity measures, such as Spain.