The alternative energy market in Greece received a significant boost yesterday with the signing of a decision that opens the way for combined electricity and heat-producing units in urban areas. This initiative, aimed at promoting the growth of the environment-friendly market in renewable energy sources (RES) was signed by deputy ministers for Development, Giorgos Salagoudis, and Environment and Public Works, Stavros Kaloyiannis. It allows hospitals, hotels, commercial buildings and homes to resort for the first time to RES and develop electricity and heating systems. It also lifts a crucial obstacle to the adoption of new technologies, satisfies a permanent demand by investors and promotes environmental protection. Salagoudis said in a press statement it is estimated that in the next five years investment in combined heat and power production will reach 80 million euros and a total capacity of 100 megawatts. Yesterday’s decision classifies combined power and heat-producing plants using gas and with a capacity of up to 2MW as «non-disturbing» activities for the urban environment. The same applies to stations producing electricity from geothermal energy, with an output of electrical power up to 0.5MW, stations using biomass or agricultural by-products with a capacity of up to 0.5MW, stations with photovoltaic systems with a capacity of up to 0.5MW, wind-powered generators producing up to 20KW as well as small hydroelectric stations producing up to 10MW. All these categories of units may be located within approved town plans, in settlements of up to 2,000 inhabitants, settlements existing since before 1923 as well as areas outside town plans. It further provides that stations producing reserve electricity in cases of power cuts or network failures are also classified as non-disturbing. The Development Ministry is also studying a bill to promote new funding tools for the realization of private energy investments in decentralized electricity production. The bill, expected by year’s end, will regulate investments both in the public and the private sector.