Greece Harnesses EU Funding to Push Towards Ambitious Renewables Plan

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has announced the first partnership for its sustainable financing repository, the Infrastructure Fund of Funds, which aims to support environmentally-friendly projects throughout the EU. The National Bank of Greece (NBG) was named as the Funds’ first partner with a massive 650 million euros of investment into ambitious sustainable energy projects in the country.

The announcement of the partnership has sparked interest in a host of sustainable projects in the country, with the investment expected to fund solar farms, photovoltaic (solar battery) storage facilities, biomass and biogas facilities and wind farms.

The initial investment is for 32 million euros, unlocking a further 450 million euros once the infrastructure project has been implemented, and the total value of investments will reach 650 million euros.

Andrew McDowell, European Investment Bank Vice President for Greece, said at the announcement that investment is essential to harness renewable energy solutions, cut fossil fuel energy generation, improve urban areas and unlock projects that have been delayed in recent years.

The Infrastructure Fund of Funds combines financial resources and technical expertise essential for priority and high impact investment. “The European Investment Bank is pleased to work with [the] National Bank of Greece, the first partner under this new initiative, and we look forward to scaling up the programme in the coming months”, he said.

Paul Mylonas, CEO of NBG added: “The Infrastructure Fund of Funds agreement will further strengthen our long-standing cooperation with the European Investment Bank Group.”

As Greece continues its economic recovery from a decade of stagnation, environmentally friendly and sustainable projects are increasingly to the fore, with the country’s energy agency recently launching Europe’s second hybrid renewable energy park. The Public Power Corporation (PPC) just announced details of the major project on the Aegean island of Ikaria, which will cost 50 million euros and will provide 50 percent of the island’s electricity needs, decreasing carbon emissions by 13,800 tonnes and liberating the island’s energy needs from dependency on an oil fuelled generating station.

The park will use wind and hydropower via a wind farm, two hydropower stations, a pumping station, water tanks, and a reservoir. The wind farm will deliver power directly to the island’s energy grid, as well as to the hydropower station when there is lower demand for electricity, where it can then be stored.

PPC CEO Manolis Panagiotakis said that the Corporation was willing to allocate as much to the project as possible in terms of resources; “The hybrid project in Ikaria showcases the potential for the energy transformation of off-grid islands and our commitment to protect the environment”, he added. The investment on the island is part of PPC’s 2018 to 2022 strategic plan, which prioritises significant investments in renewables to add to its energy portfolio.

A wind park in a Greek island, contributing to the energy transition of the country. Copyright: Vigaerix /

Greece’s energy regulator, RAE, announced a new renewable energy tender master plan last year, with plans to auction off large quantities of solar PV and wind power capacity, in order to drive private sector investment in this area.

Greece was recently named as one of nine countries worldwide capable of obtaining at least 20 percent of its electricity via wind and solar power. Other countries include Ireland, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Denmark, with Honduras and Uruguay being the only non-EU nations.

This was highlighted in a report from the Renewables 2019 Global Status Report (GSR 2019), published by REN, which collates renewable energy data from around the globe.

“With countries having to set more ambitious climate goals in 2020, this report shows that there are several opportunities to boost action and improve people’s lives by expanding energy throughout the economy”, said REN President Arthuros Zervos.

Greece looks set to meet its 2020 EU renewable energy targets, with work continuing to ensure it joins the club of eleven European nations who have already met their obligations on sustainable sources of power.

Along with Italy, Slovenia and Germany, the Athens administration recently added its name to the eighteen EU nations who are seeking to achieve Europe-wide carbon neutrality by 2050.

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Ruairi Kavanagh

Ruairi is an Irish writer, editor and author with 25 years of experience across national and specialist media. He specialises in reporting on matters relating to education, development,emergency services, international affairs, defence and security with particular interest in European affairs, the Balkan region, the Middle East and Africa.

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