Investors keen on offshore wind energy parks, framework absent

A growing number of major renewable energy companies from abroad appear keen to develop offshore wind energy parks in Greece but the absence of legal framework covering this RES sub-sector is preventing any progress.

Representatives of at least two such foreign energy companies have spent time in Athens over the past few days for meetings with local authorities to explore the country’s offshore wind project prospects, energypress understands.

One of these, Copenhagen Offshore Partners, a Danish enterprise specializing in offshore wind projects, is believed to be eyeing the north Aegean area.

The other, US firm Invenergy, has been involved in recent meetings here to discuss the development of offshore wind projects in the south Aegean.

The RES sub-sector’s prospects in Greece were also explored last year by Norway’s Equinor. An undisclosed Spanish company is also believed to have looked into offshore wind project prospects.

Strong and dry seasonal winds appearing in the Aegean Sea in the summer, known as meltemia, are a major advantage for offshore wind projects in the area as they could provide support to the grid during summer, when electricity generation levels at onshore parks are lower.

Greek power grid operator IPTO is particularly interested in this prospect as it promises to reinforce grid security.

Also, the development of offshore wind energy facilities could play a key role in helping the country achieve ambitious renewable energy targets included in a revised National Energy and Climate Plan.

Floating wind turbines tender likely in second half of 2020

Greece is making plans to begin installing floating wind turbines and could introduce this renewable energy technology by the second half of next year, the energy ministry’s secretary general Mihalis Veriopoulos (photo) has announced.

The official, who took part in a recent related workshop co-organized by the Norwegian Embassy in Athens and ELETAEN, the Greek Wind Energy Association, said the energy ministry intends to soon select one of the sea regions defined by an older study and stage a pilot tender in the second half of 2020.

KAPE/CRES, the Center for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving, established 12 offshore zones in a study dating back to 2010. One of these will be selected for the pilot tender.

Investors backed by wind turbine technology suitable for Greece’s deep waters are expected to participate in the tender.

Floating wind turbines remain an expensive technology that is still at a relatively nascent stage. The objective is to reduce this technology’s energy production cost to a level of between 40 and 60 euros per MWh by the end of the next decade, Arne Eik, a representative of Norwegian firm Equinor, told the Athens workshop.

Floating wind turbines will significantly contribute to Greece’s effort to reach RES objectives, Dr. Dionysis Papachristou, a sector specialist heading the Public Relations and Press Office at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, told the event.

Panagiotis Ladakakos, director at ELETAEN, noted floating wind turbines promise to greatly contribute to the country’s GDP growth. Turbine technology constitutes just 40 percent of the overall cost, meaning that the other 60 percent, including floating platforms and anchoring systems, can be developed locally, Ladakakos stressed.

 

Norway’s Equinor eyeing Greek floating wind turbine potential

Norwegian energy giant Equinor, formerly named Statoil, is believed to be examining Greece’s market opportunities for floating wind turbine investments.

The Norwegian Embassy in Athens, which has taken initiatives in this direction, plans to co-organize a seminar here in April with ELETAEN, the Greek Wind Energy Association, on floating wind turbines, offshore systems mounted on floating structures to generate electricity in water depths where fixed-foundation turbines are not feasible.

Through the event, the Norwegian Embassy will seek to highlight Norway’s experience in this domain and bring Greek renewable energy companies into contact with Norwegian experts. Greek government and energy sector officials are also expected to participate.

Despite the major potential offered by Greece, the local floating wind turbine market has remained stagnant since 2010. ELETAEN pointed out this lack of activity to the energy ministry in observations last December, during a public consultation procedure for Greece’s National Energy and Climate Plan.

The wind energy association called for renewed action on floating wind turbines, stressing the drastic cost reduction for this technology.