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Danish developer moves in on Rhodes -- Greek plans for 240 MW

A relative newcomer to wind expects to start building its first wind farm in Greece, after breaking quickly into the difficult, yet attractive market there. Construction of a 12 MW wind farm is due to begin soon on Rhodes, developed by Wind Park of Rhodes (WPR) SA, an affiliate of publicly traded Danish wind project developer Greentech Energy Systems A/S. WPR last month expected to have signed a power purchase agreement for the wind plant with state utility Public Power Corp (PPC), according to Greentech's Anker Ekelund. This was the final step before building could start.

The DKK 115 million (EUR 15.4 million) project, Pithanitis 1, is on Attaviros mountain, near St Isidore, on an 800 metre high plateau. Wind speeds at the site over two years have averaged 8.3 m/s, Ekelund says. Greentech is negotiating with two Danish companies for turbine supply. Another 16 MW phase is in the pipeline for the same site.

The local community near the Pithanitis 1 project owns 10% of the project. "We've had excellent co-operation with them," says Ekelund. "It's in their interest that everything goes ahead at the lowest cost and as fast as possible." For other Greentech projects in Greece, municipalities can own up to 14% of a wind power plant. "It's better for the community, and it's better for our co-operation with the community."

Attractive market

Greentech was a bank for 50 years under a different name, moving into financing and property investments in the 1980s. In 1998, it was taken over by Danish investors Towers A/S to be transformed into a renewable energy investment company. Although only 39 MW of wind power was operating in Greece two years ago, Greentech saw potential there and has focused exclusively on developing Greek projects, with more than 200 MW in planning stages beyond the Pithanitis project (table).

Much of the attraction in Greece stems from the good winds, in addition to a law from 1994 that obliges the state owned utility to buy electricity from renewable sources at a fixed premium rate (Windpower Monthly, July 1998). Besides that, the Greek government offers grants of 40% of the total cost of a project. Pithanitis 1 has been awarded the subsidy, or DKK 50 million. "What's also interesting is Greece has a subsidy law that makes it possible to receive a 40% subsidy on interest payments on financing for up to seven years," Ekelund adds. "It's very attractive. Then you have the high winds, and the guaranteed payment price for wind.

"We have decided to do everything from Greece ourselves, instead of buying into another Greek company," he says, pointing out that other foreign developers like Enercon and Enron have been trying to break into the Greek market since 1993-1994, but have accomplished little. PPC is notorious for its foot dragging and bureaucracy.

The main wind developers in Greece are PPC, construction concerns Rocas, Terna and AEGEK, investors Aioliki and WPC, according to Greentech. Of the 87 MW in operation in Greece today, another 34 MW is expected to be added shortly by PPC. More than 2000 MW of wind project applications are reported to be waiting for approval.

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