UTRECHT – As Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis threatens to unravel the common currency and roils the region’s banks, Europe’s pioneering “green energy” sector could be at risk. In a recent article, the Dutch economist Sweder van Wijnbergen argued that addressing the eurozone’s economic woes would require debt reduction and an investment program. In fact, Europe’s financial crisis and its looming energy crisis can be tackled with one program: converting existing debt into renewable-energy concessions.
The eurozone’s troubled periphery – including Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland – offers excellent conditions for harvesting renewable energy from the sun, wind, and geothermal sources. By lending small areas of their territory for renewable-energy concessions, these countries would benefit in the short term by reducing debt and stimulating their economies. They would also help to put the eurozone – as well as the global economy – on an environmentally more sustainable long-term development path.