ECONOMY

RES bill, zoning plans set to propel investment

A bill to be submitted to Parliament in January 2006 at the latest will put an end to the chaotic situation in the licensing of projects in renewable energy sources (RES). The new legislation will be in line with EU Directive 77/2000. In the last few years, the RES sector has attracted considerable investment from both Greek and large foreign groups, such as Rokas, Terna, Kopelouzos, Hellenic Technodomiki, Iberdola, EDF, Gamesa and Jasper, which are trying to position themselves in the expanding field. The sector of wind parks, in particular, provides the strongest momentum, given Greece’s rich potential. The promotion of RES in the country’s energy production has acquired increasing importance as a result of the launching of the tradeable emission rights system, which means an extra cost of tens of millions of euros for the Public Power Corporation due to its extensive use of lignite. At the Development Ministry they know they are starting from a low point: Only 5 percent of the country’s gross total energy consumption comes from RES and its share in electricity production is just 10 percent, only half the target set by Directive 77/2000 for 2010. The total capacity of installed RES production units in Greece today is 566 megawatts (MW). Licenses have already been issued for the installation of a further 220MW, but production licenses from RES total 4,646MW and applications for licenses represent 22,700MW – double the already installed total capacity of electric energy production. The biggest obstacle to RES development, particularly wind parks, in Greece is the lack of any national zoning plan in combination with reaction by local residents. The government has now set up a committee that is to draw up special zoning plans for the areas with considerable wind potential so that investors can proceed unhindered by legal challenges. The big project planned by a specialized Japanese company in Laconia has dragged on for years, being blocked by seven to eight people with successive suits filed against it in the Council of State, greece’s country’s highest court. The government recently gave priority to 40 million euros in EU grants for the funding of links between RES power producers and the national grid. It hopes to attract a total of 1-1.5 billion euros in investment in RES in the coming years.