Greece eyes grid capacity growth as investors flock to country’s RES market

Greece eyes grid capacity growth as investors flock to country’s RES market

Domestic and foreign interest in Greece's renewable energy sources (RES), mainly solar and wind energy, has soared in the last 12 months, with the state working toward creating more capacity in the national grid to accommodate more investments and meet environmental target, according to local officials and experts.

Greece's new National Plan for Energy and the Climate, published last November, provides for the installed capacity of wind energy production to rise from an estimated 3.6 gigawatts this year to 5.2 gigawatts in 2025 and 7 gigawatts by 2030. Likewise, photovoltaics' installed capacity is projected to rise from an estimated 3 gigawatts in 2020 to 7.7 gigawatts by 2030.

Energy and Environment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis reiterated on Saturday in Athens that the government will present in mid-2020 an integrated master plan for the transition to the post-coal era in power production that will offer incentives to the private sector for investments in environmentally-friendly energy production.

"We want more than 60 percent of the country's electricity production to come from RES in 10 years from now," Hatzidakis told an event by the Hellenic Association of Energy Producers from Photovoltaics (SPEF) on Saturday.

"This requires total investment of 44 billion euros (48.4 billion U.S. dollars) in the next 10 years," he added.

"We support the upgrading of the country's grid for producers to be connected, including the interconnections with the islands and Crete," the minister stressed, also announcing the simplification of the RES licensing procedure.

The grid needs upgrading as the country's market may already be reaching its limit in new projects regarding energy transmission and storage, according to producers.

The submission of applications for a total capacity of 10 gigawatts in just a year, with 80 percent concerning solar energy, illustrates a saturation in the market, Stelios Loumakis, President of SPEF, told Xinhua recently.

"Several investors will not get a license as the capacity required is simply oversubscribed," he said.

"The total power space available in the country's grid as well as per line is limited and practically insufficient compared with the investment interest expressed today in RES, especially in photovoltaics. The Greek system therefore has some insurmountable technical limitations regarding the acceptance of new investments," he explained.

Loumakis warned that "the in-depth information of investors on technical issues in the market can be crucial for the economic protection of their investment plans."

All this currently leads to a number of acquisitions of licenses by foreign investors in Greek RES, with at least two such investors already this month in the local wind energy market — one from France and another from the U.S..

Total installed wind power capacity in Greece up to end-2018 amounted to 2.82 gigawatts, a 19.2 percent increase in just two years, with another 200 megawatts estimated to have been added during the first half of 2019, Sokratis Konstantinidis, Vice President of the Hellenic Wind Energy Association told a recent energy conference in Athens.

However, the target of having 20 percent of energy produced in the country to originate from renewable energy sources by the end of this year will be missed, Konstantinidis stated, as there is a shortfall of 4.5 gigawatts in wind energy.

Similarly, the RES production quota target for 2030 cannot be reached without the expansion of wind energy, said Konstantinidis.


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