The Development Ministry is planning a new energy model with quality characteristics including rational use of energy, broad use of natural gas, strengthening of public and railway transport alternatives as opposed to road transport, and promoting renewable energy sources (RES). «Difficulties do exist but we are determined to overcome them and secure strong and sustainable development with environmental sensitivity,» Minister Dimitris Sioufas said yesterday at the Third National Conference held by the National Technical University of Athens and the Renewable Energy Resources Unit in cooperation with the Center for RES. Sioufas stated that the main pillars in the government’s energy policy are subsidizing investment efforts through the «Competitiveness» enterprise program, and improving the RES permits legal framework, in order to attract foreign investors. The inadequacies of the past, the minister continued, hindered the development of RES despite the favorable international coincidence by which Greece shared the last spot in the EU with Portugal in RES penetration. The government intends to increase considerably the contribution of RES in the national energy balance and to create significant investment opportunities there. «The intense investment interest by big enterprise groups in Greece and abroad points to a great potential for growth in the sector,» Sioufas said. The last «Competitiveness» proclamation approved 44 RES projects with a total budget of 110 million euros. Some 32 percent of these concern central solar systems, 14 percent are wind-power systems, 14 percent for utilization of biomass, photovoltaic and small hydroelectric projects, 11 percent for passive solar systems and 2 percent are for geothermal applications. The minister also said the study to shorten the RES permit process is at its final stage of study by the Regulatory Authority for Energy, in association with the Center for RES, and will soon be put to public consultation.