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Southeastern Europe’s largest solar project gets EBRD backing

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing Greek energy company Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE) with €75 million ($87.8 million) for the deployment of a solar energy project.

This raises the amount raised by HELPE to €100 million ($117.1 million) for the construction of 18 solar photovoltaic (PV) plants with a total installed capacity of 204MW in Kozani, Western Macedonia, the country’s most coal-dependent region.

The project is claimed to be the largest renewable energy project in Greece and the largest solar energy system in south eastern Europe.

The solar park will be built close to existing coal-fired power plants that are being phased out and is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 320,000 tonnes annually.

The project is part of efforts by HELPE to develop 600MW renewable energy capacity by 2025 in order to diversify its energy portfolio and reduce its environmental footprint by 50% through to 2030.

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The investment falls under the Greek Renewable Energy Framework and is aligned with the EBRD’s Green Economy Transition (GET) approach, the Bank’s strategy for helping the economies where it invests build low-carbon and resilient economies.

It is also aligned with the objectives of the Bank’s Just Transition Initiative, which aims to address the shift from fossil fuel-dependent economies towards climate-resilient and low-carbon economies.

Some 300 short-term jobs will be created during the construction of the solar park.

Greece is aiming to close all its existing coal fired power plants by the end of 2023 and to mothball one plant currently under construction by 2028.

Harry Boyd-Carpenter, EBRD head of energy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: “We are very proud to support HELPE in developing what will be the largest solar park in south-eastern Europe. Greece has a very ambitious decarbonisation plan and it will therefore need many projects of this scale to replace its existing lignite capacity. We are very happy to be part of this milestone project, led by such a strong sponsor, and support the transition of Western Macedonia towards new greener economic activities.”

George Alexopoulos, general manager of strategy and new business activities and member of the HELPE board of directors, adds: “The Kozani project is our first big step towards building a material renewables portfolio in line with our strategy and our ambition to reduce our carbon footprint.  The project will aim to maximise employment and content from the local community and, starting in 2022, produce 350GWh per year of zero-emission electricity.  We are very pleased to have the EBRD’s support in this landmark endeavour.”