Farmers increased the intensity of their protests in Greece, forcing the government to announce measures to reduce their energy costs.
Initially, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s cabinet was reluctant to exempt farmers for another year from the special tax normally imposed on diesel. However, he caved as a result of public pressure. One more extraordinary measure to reduce energy costs is a 10% discount on their power tariffs during the summer months.
Also included in the new package are plans to incentivize a buildup of renewable energy installations.
The Apollo program aims to help municipalities and irrigation organizations install photovoltaics and offset some of the energy costs for vulnerable consumers. Special auctions are envisaged for such projects that are set to be installed within two years.
Mitsotakis: We secured more space in the electricity grid
Furthermore, a new program, Photovoltaics in Fields, is aimed at individual farmers who want to invest in solar power. The Ministry of Environment and Energy said the space reserved in the grid for them is rising to 6 MW per substation from 3 MW. The upper capacity limit would be raised to 50 kW from 10kW.
“Obviously, I spoke first with HEDNO [Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator] and PPC to increase available grid space for these projects”, Mitsotakis told the Hellenic Parliament. PPC is Public Power Corp., the country’s flagship power utility.
According to the prime minister, farming associations will have their energy costs cut by 30% for a decade with subsidies for photovoltaics with batteries, with power purchase agreements (PPAs).
Invest in renewables, don’t count on subsidies to reduce energy cost
Overall, the government is sending a message to farmers to invest in renewables to permanently lower the cost of energy. Given the budgetary constraints, the exemption from the diesel tax and the reduced power tariffs cannot continue indefinitely.
In view of Greece’s high solar potential and renewables being the cheapest source of electricity, expanding them is a must in all sectors of the economy. Farmers were called to modernize their business models and become active participants in the energy transition.