The Development Ministry said yesterday recent legislative changes will speed up the increased use of renewable energy sources (RES) by cutting red tape and introducing incentives, as Greece remains among the European Union laggards in adopting green power. The new law will allow for the faster implementation of investment plans in the sector and pave the way for more photovoltaic systems and their connection to a central grid, the Development Ministry said. «We want 2009 to be the year of RES in the energy department for the government,» Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis said yesterday after a Cabinet meeting. Other changes include the introduction of a program allowing for the placement of solar power units on roofs belonging to households and businesses. According to government data, Greece is closing the RES gap with its EU peers in a trend it expects to continue. «From 2004 until 2008, we have tripled the the installed RES capacity from some 450 megawatts to more than 1,400 MW,» the minister said. Interest shown by investors in Greece – one of the sunniest and windiest countries in the EU – has been strong but bureaucracy has been cited as a key reason for holding up investment plans. Figures from the European Commission show that 6.9 percent of the energy consumed in Greece came from RES versus the EU average of 8.7 percent. By 2020, Greece needs to meet 18 percent of its total power needs with RES, according to a goal set by Brussels. Applications for some 42 gigawatts (GW) in RES development have been filed by investors and are awaiting approval by state bodies. Greece is optimistic it will reduce this backlog soon. «In the near future, the ministry estimates that projects involving some 5 to 7 GW of wind parks and 2 GW of photovoltaic energy will be carried out,» said a source.