Experiencing a beautiful 22 degrees °C sun in Rhodes, Greece brought to mind two thoughts:
1) “Yes, it is truly the Island of the Sun.”
2) “Yes, climate change is happening.”
This led me to one conclusion: Solar power is the best way for Mediterranean countries to take advantage of their greatest asset: the sun. With it they can power their economies out of the crisis and into a brighter and more sustainable future!
A few days ago the first solar panels for low-income families – funded by you – were installed in Rhodes! I saw hope in the smiles of the families. Smiling, because they now have access to free and clean energy from the sun, and because the electricity bill will never again be a huge burden on their family budgets. Shouldn’t everybody have this?
This is particularly true in a crisis-hit country like Greece, where our dependence on dirty and expensive fossil fuels is dashing hopes for a swift recovery while further fueling the Greek debt. That’s why we started our crowdfunding project: Let’s solarize Greece. It was for people like you who want to help Greece in a meaningful way and get low-income families free solar panels while at the same time demonstrating how Greece can solarize its way out of the crisis.
Six out of ten families in Greece have difficulty paying their electricity and heating expenses. The photovoltaic (PV) systems will utilize Greece’s new law for power self-generation (net-metering). The households will use all the solar power they can get from the panels for their own needs and any surplus will be temporarily fed to the grid and return to them during nighttime. In this way, families can cover all their electricity needs 24/7 throughout the year!
And this is only the beginning.
Imagine all households and businesses in Greece covering part of their energy needs from the sun! Even better, imagine all households and businesses in Europe being able to do the same! Moreover, Solar energy means business. It’s an energy transition that will create more jobs than the Greek energy sector can offer right now. It can help Greece out of the crisis. The best indicator for this is the great enthusiasm for solar energy as a future profession for the 16 high school students that helped with the installations as a final part of our training on solar energy and photovoltaics.
Bringing the sun back is like bringing hope back to an island – to a country – that seems to be in an impossible situation and is desperately trying not to give up. One way forward is what Greenpeace suggested last November in a study presented at a press conference; the Greek government can use revenues from carbon credits (i.e. the European Emissions Trading System) to install free PV systems on at least 300,000 low-income households. What’s so amazing about this analysis is that the principle can be applied to every EU country!
In the last month of my work – speaking with families, pupils, schoolteachers and locals – I heard it loud and clear: the right to energy self-generation and the wish for a safe and clean future are strong. Now it only has to be heard by our government.
Let the country have again a bright and sunny future.
Anna-Maria Renner is a climate campaign support officer with Greenpeace Greece.