The Unlikely Alliance Behind Clean Energy for Europe.
Of all the places you’d expect to find revolutionary renewable energy innovation, a country being kept afloat by bailouts on a continent plagued by an extended recession is probably amongst the least likely. But an improbable partnership has developed that could re-invent what we thought was possible from transcontinental energy has emerged, and it could signal a change in the way both commercial and residential energy is provided in the future.
Whilst Greece’s fragile economy might have left their relationship with the rest of the European Union strained in Brussels, a solar energy project being pioneered by Greece and Germany could prove to be an exciting new model for clean energy, that could have a knock-on effect for the rest of Europe.
Dubbed Helios – after the sun god of the Ancient Greek mythology – the project would aim to see thousands of solar panels installed along the famously-sunny Mediterranean coastline, which would then be transported by transmission lines to power homes and commercial property in Germany.
Given their recent pledge to ‘virtually eliminate greenhouse emissions by 2050’, the European Commission (the executive arm division of the European Union) have already put their full support behind Helios, thanks to it’s inherently clean and safe nature, as well as a lack of physical importation – unlike natural gas from Russia, for example.
As well as a more sustainable source of commercial energy, the EU also projects that installations like Helios will help them with a number of goals that have been laid out; such projects create a healthy number of new jobs, and will help the renewable energy sector grow in line with pledges made by the 27 EU member states.
Germany, currently the biggest EU economy, is having to rapidly change it’s stance as an exporter of energy to an importer following shutting down seven of it’s nuclear reactors. Whilst these reactors were scheduled to be closed over the coming years, the decision was made to shut them down almost immediately following the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
Whilst the goal of a nuclear-free, renewable energy economy is something of an ideal, the cost of this transition – for Germany in particular – has been strenuous, and could set a benchmark for the cost of energy importation that some countries may find hard to swallow; the European Climate Foundation has estimated that the transmission capacity of project Helios will have to double by 2030, at a cost of €68bn between 2020 and 2030 in order to keep it viable, a total that does not include the hundreds of billions needed for new generation projects.
Q. Does the thought of investing in such vast clean energy projects during times of recession make your wallet wince?
Q. Or do you think a continent-wide energy overhaul will be worth it in the long run?
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