ECONOMY

Red tape cut in favor of RES

The government said yesterday it will slash red tape to speed up investments in renewable energy projects as it strives to meet European Union commitments for cleaner fuels. With its long, windswept Aegean coastline, Greece is considered one of Europe’s best-positioned countries to harness wind energy but it has been slow to take advantage of it as bureaucratic obstacles have stymied investment. «We are trying to better exploit our renewable energy sources [RES],» Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas told a major wind energy conference. «Bureaucratic procedures that delay interested investors will be minimized.» Currently, only about 5 percent of Greece’s electricity is generated from renewable sources – a quarter of its EU target for 2010. A new law to streamline investment will be introduced in the next few days, Sioufas said. In the past decade, Greece has approved investments to produce up to 4,000 megawatts of electricity from wind energy, but currently only 600 MW come from wind power. By 2010, the country must boost that figure to 3,300 MW in order to meet EU targets. Need for alternatives In an interview, a senior member of the Greenpeace environmental group said that rising oil prices had highlighted the need for alternative energy sources that also cut air pollution. «High oil prices have given a massive boost to renewable energy,» said Sven Teske, head of Greenpeace’s global renewable energy campaign. «Wind power could supply up to 30 percent of the EU’s electricity by the year 2040 or 2050.» Under Greece’s new legislation, Sioufas said there would be an expedited approval process for projects involving renewable energy. The bill would also introduce a new one-stop inter-agency commission to cut through bureaucratic obstacles. The law also delinks renewable energy-produced electricity prices from those of state monopoly PPC. Under EU rules, Greece must boost electricity production from renewable sources as part of the bloc’s broader goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol – an international treaty aimed at combating global warming. The EU15, or the «old» member states prior to the 2004 enlargement, must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent compared with 1990 levels by 2012, the protocol says. As part of that effort, the EU has said that 21 percent of electricity produced in Europe should come from renewable sources by 2010, up from 13 percent currently. EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said it was time to think beyond this date, putting down the foundations of energy policy for the following decades. «Energy research and development must be significantly enhanced,» he told the conference. (Reuters)