ECONOMY

Wind parks limited

The Environment and Public Works Ministry is in favor of developing wind parks on Greek islands but wants to place strict restrictions on such development. The Greek islands, buffeted by winds for most of the year, have great potential as wind park locations. Ministry officials estimate that as many as 7,000 turbines could be installed, producing about 14,000 megawatts of energy annually. Private investors are fighting over prime locations. The islands also happen to be among Greece’s major tourist attractions. An overdevelopment of wind parks would create both aesthetic conflicts and great noise pollution, as anyone who has visited a wind park can confirm. Thus, the new land use plan for renewable energy sources being prepared by the Environment and Public Works Ministry would limit wind parks to 4 percent of a municipality’s area (versus 8 percent on the mainland and on the island of Evia), which should limit the number of wind turbines to 2,000, producing some 4,000 MW of energy. This means a wind turbine per 2 square kilometers or, more precisely, 0.53 turbines per sq.km, irrespective of the island’s wind energy potential. For example, on the island of Sifnos, which has an area of 74 square kilometers, up to 39 wind turbines will be allowed. Another limit to be placed is on the quantity of energy produced on islands that are not connected to the countrywide electricity grid but produce electricity for their own needs. In this case, the cap on electricity production from renewable energy sources is set at 30 percent of an island’s electricity capacity. This limitation is to ensure the stability of the local grid, ministry officials say. Compared to mainland locations, there are also stricter limits as to how close to villages wind parks can be (1.5 kilometers from a «traditional settlement» or archaeological site and 1 kilometer from small settlements and tourist locations. In a provision that is likely to prove controversial, wind parks can be located within 300 meters of the «core» of a national park or an area protected by the Natura 2000 treaty. The land use plan also calls for the change of land use in some areas, especially on the islands of Samos, Tinos and Lesvos.