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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Solar Energy in Greece: Exploring barriers and opportunities to the benefit of society

Greece, a country blessed with abundant sunlight, enters the ninth year of economic uncertainty, worsened by the power sector’s adverse situation. The primary energy supply is heavily dependent on dirty and expensive imported fuels dashing hopes for a swift recovery, while energy expenses have become a pressing concern for most families. This sustainability challenge is inconsistent with Greece’s comparative advantage, the intake of almost 50% more solar radiation than Germany; therefore, the solar energy programme could be reframed as a way of decreasing the national deficit and exercising social policy. Conducted research widens the understanding of key barriers and opportunities in the Greek Photovoltaic (PV) sector, through the specialised knowledge and experience of key stakeholders. Reports from public authorities and pressure groups, along with evidence from strategically selected interviews, constitute primary data sources, which are assessed through thematic analysis.

Findings show mixed responses about the national profit from the “solarisation of economy”. Certain stakeholders frame solar energy as a means of combating energy poverty, whereas others still promote conventional infrastructural investments. The results also yield interesting observations regarding the historical evolution of the Greek PV market. Although the financial downturn has impacted the citizens’ willingness-to-pay, the market collapse is primarily correlated to the lack of investors’ confidence. Solar intermittency, increasing exposure of investments to market forces and difficulty in accessing finance, indicate that a significant rise in PV penetration is no longer solely a matter of policies, but requires additionally the development of appropriate business structures. To date, solar business models have been ignoring key value drivers regarding the optimal grid integration. The creation of an ancillary services market could leverage PV’s value from simply being an energy resource.

By providing some policy and market insights that could enable national security of supply within a low-carbon energy mix, the main conclusions reveal opportunities with domestic added value. Recommendations and limitations of this research are specified, setting up the basis for future research on more practical considerations.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.