Greece announced today that it will invest 12 billion euros ($15.6 billion) in environmental and energy projects over the next five years. This amounts to more than 10% of the 110 billion euro bailout fund it received from the EU and the IMF.
If successful, Greece will get 40% of its electricity from renewable sources within 10 years, compared to only 4% today.
Imagine what 40% renewable electricity could do for an economy and an environment. Yes, it requires a large investment up front, but within 10 years Greece could get a significant portion of its energy needs from sources such as wind and solar that have zero fuel costs. Talk about a competitive advantage. Businesses in other countries will be paying inflated prices per ton of coal or barrel of oil, while Greece will have zero fuel costs for a significant portion of its energy needs.
Considering all the ways IMF bailout funds have been used by countries in the past (where, exactly, did all that money go?), investing in infrastructure that will reduce energy costs and emissions over the long term has to be one of the better plans.
Greece hopes to leverage its investment by attracting an additional 32 billion euros of private sector funding for energy infrastructure projects such as natural gas pipelines and storage terminals. It also hopes to create almost 200,000 new jobs in the process.
This will be fascinating to watch. Getting 40% of electricity from renewable sources and creating jobs over 10 years is not a pipe dream. I wish Greece all the best on this venture….and hope they succeed as an example for the rest of us.