Greece - Wind awaits return of financial investment

GREECE: Market players are hoping a second economic support package agreed for Greece earlier this year will make liquidity available to the country's wind-power sector. Due to financing difficulties, the Hellenic Wind Energy Association (HWEA) expects the sector will turn in a worse performance this year than in 2011, when installed wind capacity rose 424MW to 1,629MW.

HWEA nonetheless forecasts a minimum 180MW will be added this year. It will be hard to achieve more. "Even if banks become more open to financing in March, for example, that would still not be enough time to commission a wind farm by the end of the year," notes Vassilis Spiliotopoulos, general manager of Gamesa Group in Greece.

Should financing improve, investors are ready. "There are a lot of projects that have been permitted and investor interest is still huge," says PPC Renewables CEO Ioannis Tsipouridis. Last year, the company agreed a joint investment with Chinese turbine manufacturer Sinovel in a 200MW wind farm in Rodopi. In the future, Sinovel could be opening a factory in Greece.

Foreign investors have been crucial to Greece's wind sector. According to HWEA's 2011 statistics, EDF Energies Nouvelles is Greece's biggest wind producer with 272MW capacity. Iberdrola Rokas follows with 251MW, ahead of Greek firm Terna's 242MW. Italy's Enel Green Power had total capacity of 172MW at end-2011.

Financing aside, developers note Greece's permitting regime has improved and a feed-in tariff over 20 years of EUR0.088/kWh for wind farms on the mainland and EUR0.099/kWh for projects on the non-interconnected islands is generally seen as adequate. However, Gamesa's Spiliotopoulos suggests the government show its commitment to wind and attract new investment by introducing a premium for lower wind sites. Greece must pick up pace to meet its 2020 objective of 7.5GW.

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