Tomatoes vs. Energy: Greek farmers to grow … solar panels!

Posted by in Economy

Greek farmers seem to have lost their faith in farming. 12.000 professional farmers have applied to get licences and start “growing” solar energy instead of vegetables, fruits and grains. A government law on solar energy/photovoltaic panels gives to professional farmers not only the possibility to produce electricity by means of solar panels in high-productivity farmlands, it gives priority to farmers’ applications as well.
According to Union of Photovoltaic Companies, 34%  of the energy capacity will be given exclusively to farmers, while a large portion of the solar energy pie will go to big investors.
Greece is a country blessed with  sunshine. Sun and many hours of bright day light are known to give lift human spirits and vegetable growth. Tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, peaches, oranges, all kinds of mediterranean  vegetable and fruits can grow and delight us with their sun-sweet taste.  Farmers of Crete are angry because they have been excluded by the photovoltaic provisions. Can green energy pose a danger to production of greens?

Development? What development?

When Spyros, a non-farmer, went to submit his application for the installation of a photovoltaic plant in some hectares of his  uncultivated land in Kilkis, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The network was already full and closed to new applications. The majority of the local farmers were  quicker and more organized than him, who doesn’t live in the area anyway.

Spyros, 38, is a computer specialist, struggling to come along with  12 hours per day and EUR 800 per month. The investment in solar energy has been his dream for the last years, as a chance to get a better life, secure a descent income and start a family. Selling 100 KW to Greek Electricity Company would earn him revenues of 75.000 euro per year. Of course, Spyros does not have the money to start the whole project by himself.  Ok, the law rose the own capital from 5% to 25% but Spyros though he could live with it. Money from his father and a joint-project with his brother could help the idea to materialize. The rest of the needed capital would come from a bank loan. Spyros had calculated a 10 years period to pay back the loan of some 400.000 euro.

Spyros made his calculations in vain.  Spyros  is only one of  disappointed future Greek medium energy producers.  He wonders why should professional farmers turn their high-productivity farmlands into energy fields.

He also asks himself when the time will come when he will go to grocery to buy tomatoes and come back home with  1 KW freshly produced by the local farmer, instead.