Saturday, May 19, 2012

COULD THE ECONOMY OF GREECE BE SAVED BY SOLAR AND WIND ENERGY?

While writing this I'm listening to on-line TV-broadcast of Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE). There our Minister of Europian Affairs and Foreign Trade Mr. Alexander Stubb is guessing whether Greece is capable of paying its national debt or not.

For some months now I have been thinking why southern European countries are not building solar, wind and wave energy capacity. They have much more sunny days than for example Germany and North European countries, and the coastlands of Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy are having also plenty of wind available.

Only Spain has begun some kind of serious renewable energy program, the others are just outsiders. When politicians speak whether Greece is capable of paying its debts, nobody is speaking about a new alternative way of arranging things internationally.

New technology offers new possibilities that can be ignored beacuse of lack of former experience on that spectacular area. Nobody could have seriously claimed a few years ago that Germany will be the leader in solar technology in the world in just three years. Or thought that Saudi -Arabia will build 41 000 MW of solar capacity during the next 20 years, keeping in mind that it has huge oil reservoirs and the price of energy is there record low.

Link: - Techi:
http://www.techi.com/2011/12/germany-captures-43-of-the-worlds-solar-power/
Link: - Cleantechnica:
http://cleantechnica.com/2012/05/11/109-billion-increase-for-solar-in-saudi-arabia/

But this kind of new technology is giving us free tools to arrange economies of whole countries or entire continents. Imagine an energy network that is Europe-wide, consisting of wind-, solar-, water-, wave- and biomass-based electricity generating power plants. This smart network could make it possible to ensure enough energy in every part of Europe, keeping sustainibility as a main target in mind. CO2 -emissions would be going down and stability and security of energy production could be enhanced.

The slow adapting of new renewable energy technology and smart grids especially in Southern Europe have been a major issue to take the first steps to reach that goal. Large scale nuclear power and weapons programs have been also hindering the willingness to introduce new environmentally better technologies.

Only after Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima the eyes of the world are beginning to open. Many countries have decided to start develop safe energy production technologies. And willingness to invest in renewables is higher than ever.

On this background I would like to see some wise men and women, experts on energy and economical issues, to count whether it could be possible to rearrange the national economies of Greece and Spain and other southern European countries by investing on their renewable energy sector by building together with these countries enormous solar, wind, wave and biomass power stations and smart grids needed for transportation of energy to continental Europe. So it would be possible for these countries to pay their debt in electricity during the decades to come. Meantime they could get the energy they need themselves, and the construction work and sustaining the power generating system would offer thousands of working places and the economical activity that is desperately needed there. And the risks for accidents and pollution would be almost zero for them. No nuclear waste, no decontamination needed, unlike with nuclear power.

The constucting work could be started without delay - new wind mills could be built within the first year, new solar power stations could be productive in a few years, locally minor investments to renewables could be started straight away. No need for ten year planning and construction time as for nuclear pover - the capacity could be built little by little - and the power generating capacity would start to pay the investments back from the first megawatt produced. And what would be the upper limit, would 41 000 megawatts like for Saudi-Arabia , be realistic - or twice or ten times that much? That question could be answered by wind- solar- and wave energy engineers and companies in co-operation with technical universities and researchers.

After constructing investments the costs of keeping the powerplants and smart grids running is relatively low when we speak about solar and wind energy. The income for the countries and investors that have made bad loans with Greece (and other countries of Southern Europe) during recent years would be quite safe and there would not be huge risks included. The sun is shining quite often, the wind blows somewhere whole the time and the sea is rarely calm.

JPS

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