Less red tape for renewable energy

The Development Ministry said yesterday it plans to improve procedures needed to approve photovoltaic investments as it launches an information campaign on raising awareness about renewable energy sources (RES). The ministry will propose sharing permit assessment procedures with energy regulator RAE in a move that will help cut down on red tape, according to Deputy Development Minister Stavros Kalafatis. Ministry studies show that if the government approves a third of the applications it has received for photovoltaic investments, then the country will be equipped with 300 megawatts of solar power by 2012. RES projects, producing 919 MW of energy, have already been approved for incorporation in government-funded schemes. Despite being one of Europe’s windiest and sunniest countries, Greece has been trailing its EU peers in switching over to RES, such as wind and photovoltaic parks. The country remains heavily reliant on oil imports and lignite-powered energy plants run by utility Public Power Corporation (PPC). Meanwhile, the ministry said a fully equipped van will begin traveling around Greece with the aim of informing people about the importance of adopting environmentally friendly power. The vehicle will be equipped with a television, an office and computer while also being manned by experts on the subject. «With this initiative, we are filling an important gap – the lack of information directed at the local community about the many development and environmental benefits of RES,» said Kalafatis. «RES and the co-production of electricity and heat is a smart response to protecting the environment while ensuring the right energy management and economic development on a national and regional level.»