The Helios project involves the installation of large tracts of photovoltaic panels – up to 20,000 ha, for a total funding estimated at 20 billion euros.
According to the Commissioner, “Helios is a unique opportunity to demonstrate that renewable technologies such as photovoltaics are becoming competitive with European cooperation.” He added: “The flagship Helios could well lead the way to a European electricity market truly integrated, renewable sources, while helping the Greek economy to recover.”
But as pointed out Mr. Oettinger, “currently, the infrastructure of Greece does not manage the flow of power generated by large renewable energy projects such as Helios.” Therefore, he believes that regional integration of major projects concerning renewable should be “combined with the controlled growth of the electricity system.”
He therefore proposed to develop a European network which would help achieve two key objectives of European energy policy. First, the completion of the internal energy market by 2014 and the end of energy islands by 2015. Because only 3% of EU electricity is traded across borders and several regions are still disconnected from the rest of Europe, including Greece still heavily dependent on coal.
“Because of its location, I believe that Greece has a key role in the integration of regional energy markets of the European Union, both for electricity than for gas” said the European Commissioner for Energy.
Moreover, the German State Secretary for the Environment Jürgen Becker reiterated the desire for his country to “take part” in the Helios project. The Greek government seemed to have already set his sights on Germany, a country highly qualified in the field: “There is great interest in German for this kind of investment”, said in August 2011, the Environment Minister George Papaconstantinou.