Thinking big in Greece

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Some of Europe's largest wind energy developments could take place in Greece if proposals by three of the country's leading energy producers get the go-ahead. In the past three months ever-bigger projects -- with a combined capacity so far of 2736 MW -- have been announced for the Aegean islands.

Of these, local wind project developer Rokas, the dominant wind plant owner and operator in Greece, has put together by far the most ambitious plan -- for 1636 MW divided among 44 wind stations on the islands of Chios, Lesvos, and Limnos. Rokas not only intends to build the wind plant, but also the wires needed to get the power to consumers. Its proposal, which will cost an estimated EUR 2.4 billion, includes building the power transmission system interconnecting the islands and the mainland. Rokas has submitted an application to the independent energy regulator RAE for a production licence, the first stage in the long drawn out permitting process for energy projects in Greece.

A few days after Rokas' announcement, the metals, energy and defence holding company Mytilineos continued its flurry of activity (page 44) by announcing a business plan for integrating 700 MW of wind and 100 MW of geothermal energy on the islands of Milos, Kimolos, Poliegos and Serifos. An underwater cable would link the islands with the mainland grid at Lavrio.

Kicking off the action, however, was the Kopelouzos Group with applications for 400 MW of wind power on the islands of Andros, Tinos, Paros and Naxos. Again the proposal also includes an underwater link to the mainland, at a total investment of some EUR 700 million.

Though the Aegean islands have excellent wind potential, they are mostly reliant on diesel generation and suffer constant supply shortfalls, especially in summer. The developers believe there will be little local opposition to the projects, particularly when combined with the economic benefits of extra employment and tax revenues accruing to the municipalities.

Should all the turbines be built, they will meet Greece's EU renewables target in one fell swoop. Greece aims to produce 20.1% of its energy from renewable sources by 2010, of which wind power would provide an estimated 2500-3500 MW. Installed wind capacity currently stands at 710 MW.

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