Windfarms taking a long time to catch on in Greece

Wind energy for electricity was first introduced to Greece in 1975, when estimates were first made of the potential of this alternative form of power production. Original plans were for 400 magawatts (MW) by 2000 to meet 2-3 percent of the country’s energy needs, of which 150 MW was included in the Public Power Corporation (PPC)’s development program and the rest in the private sector. However, this goal was never met and now the total wind (aeolic) power produced is less than 300 MW, of which just 36 MW is produced by PPC. In other words, the wind provides just 300,000 Greek households with electricity – a very small number considering the country’s potential for wind energy. PPC’s largest windfarms are on the islands of Crete, Evia, Samos, Chios and Lemnos, with smaller ones on Andros, Psara, Lesvos, Samothrace, Icaria, Karpathos and Kythnos. Existing private windfarms are mainly on the islands of Evia (325 generators) and Crete (96, mostly sited in the eastern part of the island), with a few smaller ones of one to five generators of up to 2 MW spread around the Aegean islands, such as Kea, Syros, Paros, Rhodes, Samos and Chios. There are just four generators in Attica. Problems There is no doubt that wind energy is a valuable resource, however for a windfarm to be set up, the Greek State demands licenses from 36 different services and the coordination of seven different ministries (Development, Environment and Public Works, National Economy, Agriculture, Culture, Transport and National Defense). Bureaucracy is not the only problem. In windy areas, usually isolated and sparsely populated, there are no large power production plants, so no matter how much power is produced, it cannot be transported to larger urban areas. A solution has come from the Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII) as well as a proposal for interested investors to co-fund the construction or extension of networks. But this will take time. According to estimates, the PPC network for the whole of Evia will be ready in 2003, while for Laconia, an area with great wind energy potential but no installations, it will not be ready before 2006, the year in which CSFIII «benefits» will cease. Europe Under these circumstances, it is obvious why Greece is at the tail end of Europe’s wind energy production, where total turnover is 4 billion euros, comprising 85 percent of the entire world production and employing 60,000 people. Denmark and Germany lead the field, followed by Spain, a country that is very similar to Greece. Time is running out, as Greece is obliged under its commitments to the EU to cover 20.1 percent of its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2010. A substantial percentage of this amount will come from windfarms, with a total capacity of 2,500 MW.