Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Greek crisis: social enterprise is one answer to economic strife | World news | guardian.co.uk

Greek crisis: social enterprise is one answer to economic strife | World news | guardian.co.uk

Forest fires, common in Greece, would be reduced by a scheme to recycle biomass as well as providing fuel for homes.  Good ideas? Greece, when you look, really isn't short of them, and people are starting to do something about them.
 
 HELGE: This story sounds like a very practical solution.

Ioannis Lagos is an avuncular fiftysomething accountant from the small mountain village of Stemnitsa in the Arcadia region. The village, like many of those in the region, is surrounded by forest. The forest, as forests do in Greece, catch fire, and have done a lot in recent summers.

The main reason the fires spread so fast is the quantity of fallen trees, branches and brushwood on the forest floor.

HELGE:  A systematic approach for the colleciton and chipping of the biomass is needed.

At the same time, Lagos and some of his friends, volunteer firefighters from Mainalo mountain, have worked out that it now costs roughly €3,500 a year to keep the average Arcadian household warm with heating oil, which is set to hit €1.40 a litre this winter.

Suppose you collected all that forest floor biomass from the 40,000 acres of forest belonging to the commune, turned it into wood pellets – less than half the price of heating oil for the same output – and sold them to local people at slightly less than the average market price? You would be easing the forest fire problem, helping citizens of Arcadia to heat their homes more cheaply (the wood-burning stove they would need would pay for itself within a year) – and you could even pay the salaries of the local unemployed people who did the work.

 HELGE: Germans, Finns and Scandinavians are colleting the biomass for energy conversion.

I won't go into the detail, but Lagos is an accountant and there is a solid business plan: the project is in profit if it sells 2,000 tonnes of pellets; it is targeting a market share of less than 1.5% of the region's households.

HELGE:  Sounds like "do it!"
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