New Greek energy law cuts through red tape

GREECE: The log jam of wind power projects caught awaiting construction permission in Greece could be released if a draft renewable energy law currently under discussion comes into force.

Greek environment minister Tina Birbilli
Greek environment minister Tina Birbilli

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At the same time, the government has increased its renewable energy target to 20% of final energy consumption by 2020, up from 18%.

This will require an installed wind capacity of around 10GW, according to the Hellenic Wind Energy Association (HWEA).

At present, just over 3% of Greece's energy comes from renewable sources, while 57GW of renewable energy projects are awaiting approval, according to environment minister Tina Birbili.

The draft law aims to enable Greece to meet its new target by slashing red tape, revising the regulatory framework, building the necessary grid connections and ensuring that projects get built.

It proposes simplifying the initial production licence process by allowing certain authorisation procedures to progress in parallel and assuming that if an authority fails to respond within the legal deadline, its decision is positive. Birbili hopes these measures will reduce the licensing process from the current three-to-five years to as little as eight months.

The draft also seeks to unknot some of the problems caused by the spatial planning framework for renewables introduced by the previous government (Windpower Monthly, March 2009). So-called wind priority areas and the minimum distance between turbines will be scrapped, alongside other restrictions determining where turbines can be built. If all goes to plan, the draft law should be submitted to parliament sometime this spring.

Meanwhile, Birbili has also turned her sights on the partly privatised national utility, the Public Power Corporation (PPC). Late last year she directed it to revise its EUR13.5 billion investment plan in order to increase the share of renewables in its energy mix. The original version cited a target of 950MW of installed renewables capacity by 2014, representing just 3% of PPC's electricity output.

The utility's new boss should need no persuading. In November, Birbili appointed Arthouros Zervos, president of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and renewable energy expert, to head the PPC.

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