Good market conditions bring diversity to wind in Greece

Find out how the Greek government's efforts to speed up permitting are attracting investors in the final part of our focus on southern Europe

Total Eren’s 14.4MW Mandra wind farm in north-east Greece came online in 2020

This is a feature from Windpower Monthly's May 2021 Insight Report. Click here to read the full edition

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Greek wind developers and operators are looking to the future with cautious optimism after two strong years for new capacity additions. Meanwhile, a broad base of investors look to bring new wind farms online.

Greece currently has about 4.1GW of wind farms online, with more than 500MW added last year and a record 753MW in 2019. WindEurope estimates it could add another 1.5GW through to 2025. The country’s national energy and climate plan (NECP) sees 7.05GW installed by 2030.

Following the Greek government’s decision to close most lignite plants by 2023, and all of them by 2028, state-owned utility PPC is increasingly fashioning itself as a renewable-energy developer, setting the tone for other investors. It aims to have some 270MW of installed wind capacity by 2023 — more than double the 112MW it had in 2020. “If the state utility is moving in this direction, it gives a good signal to markets and banks,” says Ivan Komusanac, an analyst at WindEurope. 

Alongside PPC, Greek wind giants like Terna Energy and Ellaktor continue to expand. They are joined by long-standing international investors such as Iberdrola, Enel and EDF Renewables, which are also eyeing further growth.   

New investors include Greek petroleum refining and trading company Motor Oil, which inked a preliminary deal to buy 11 operational wind farms and one under construction, with total capacity of 240MW, in March. In the same month, London-based investment platform National Energy Holdings finalised a deal to buy 70MW in operational wind and solar assets.

“The important thing now is that there is a significant degree of diversification in investors and turbine manufacturers in the market,” says Panagiotis Papastamatiou, the CEO of the Hellenic Wind Energy Association (HWEA). “This diversification creates the basis for stable growth.”

Permitting progress

The government has also taken steps to simplify the early stages of permitting. In a December 2020 application round inaugurating a fully online procedure for assigning renewable-energy production licences needed at the beginning of the authorisation process, Greek energy regulator RAE received applications for a total of 45.5GW in capacity. Wind developers participated with 423 projects covering a combined 8.7GW. 

To avoid an overheating of the market, stricter criteria are now needed to evaluate the capability of developers to implement projects, Papastamatiou says. “Otherwise, there are so many applications that have little chance of being successful but create problems of social acceptance,” he warns. The later stages of permitting also need simplifying to favour more mature projects, and the government has committed to do so later this year.

The investment case for wind in Greece has largely been underpinned by an auction system for 20-year contracts for difference (CfDs), which is set to run through to 2024. Papastamatiou expects the first Greek wind farms could be supported by corporate power purchase agreements in 2023 or 2024.

Offshore potential

Greece currently has no offshore wind capacity. Given the depth of Greek seas, the potential is highest for floating offshore wind. EDPR and Engie’s Ocean Winds joint venture recently announced plans to team up with Terna Energy to co-develop 1.5GW of floating offshore wind projects in Greek waters. The partners plan to first identify the most suitable areas and then draw up a complete project plan. 

Equinor, Copenhagen Offshore Partners and Principle Power are among other offshore wind players scouting out opportunities.

“Offshore wind is in the making in Greece, which is one of the most advanced countries in the Mediterranean when it comes to putting together an offshore wind framework,” said WindEurope’s Komusanac. The Greek government is preparing to unveil that framework this summer and sees offshore wind representing a significant but not yet quantified portion of its 2030 power mix.