Greece’s plan for using European Union funds to combat the effects of the coronavirus pandemic will accelerate the nation’s transition from fossil fuels to a greener economy, a government adviser said.
Both domestic and foreign companies are expected to step up after almost 18 billion euros ($21 billion) of public and private funds were earmarked for everything from solar panels to energy storage, said Vassilis Antoniades, head of the financial services practice for Central Europe and Middle East at Boston Consulting Group Inc.
“It’s extremely encouraging that over 30% of the EU funds for Greece are directed at green opportunities,” he said in an interview in Athens. Many of the opportunities are located in lignite-dependent areas and provide a chance to curb their dependence on the power-plant fuel for jobs, said Antoniades, who headed the team that advised the government on exiting lignite.
Greece is still dealing with the effects of a decade-long financial crisis, but is budgeting 6.2 billion euros for green projects. A further 11.6 billion euros will come from the private sector, according to the country’s national resilience and recovery plan for use of the European funds.
The Greek proposals for using the EU funds, including the green investments, will lead to an increase in real economic output by 7% by 2026 and the creation of 180,000 new jobs, according to the Bank of Greece.
Antoniades also said that surging carbon prices are likely to further drive investment in renewable energy. Prices of 90 euros per ton or higher in the long-term shouldn’t surprise anyone, he said. Permits traded at about 53 euros on Wednesday after gaining more than 60% this year.
(By Paul Tugwell)