Forbidding wind farms in Natura areas ‘unfair’, ELETAEN head tells

The wind energy sector is extremely concerned about prospective RES site plan revisions which, given the limited amount of information provided so far by authorities, could lead to stricter regulations on permissible locations for projects.

These concerns were highlighted by Panagiotis Papastamatiou, general manager of ELETAEN, the Greek Wind Energy Association, in an interview for local business news channel SBC’s Energy Week show, hosted by energypress journalist Thodoris Panagoulis.

RES sector enterprises, especially ones active in the wind energy sub-sector, fear that Greece’s existing uniform approach for project site planning could be superseded by regional conditions.

Enterprises fear stricter site regulations. Papastamatiou, in the SBC interview, stressed that the current rules are based on an already-conservative framework of rules that were implemented in 2008. Any further tightening of these regulations would affect investments, the ELETAEN official warned.

Papastamatiou noted it would be unfair to forbid wind farm installations at Natura areas – – EU network of protected areas – given the fact that other forms of building and human activity are permitted in such areas.

RES sector officials are worried about Greece’s Natura-related restrictions as a considerable proportion of the country’s land mass is included in this category. Papastamatiou noted that roughly 37 to 38 percent of Greek territory at altitudes of more than 500 meters has been included in the Natura zone. It is these elevated spots, offering high electricity generation potential, that primarily interest wind farm investors.

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis recently approved a regional RES site plan for Crete that forbids the installation of new RES facilities within the island’s Natura 2000 areas, prompting wider alarm in the sector. The ministry is currently seeking a consultant for the new RES site plan’s national framework.

In comments to energypress, energy and environment ministry officials contended that the national RES site plan overpowers regional plans and, as a result, the Natura restrictions for Crete could not take effect.

Terms for RES auctions, offering capacity for new wind farm installations, need to be further clarified, Papastamatiou stressed in the SBC interview. Technology in this domain has progressed and competition promises to provide benefits, including more choices for customers, and lower energy costs, he added.