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active in the wind energy sub-sector, fear that Greece’s existing uniform approach for project site planning could be superseded by regional conditions.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


Wind farm investors concerned by effect of Natura restriction

Wind energy authorities and company officials are extremely concerned about tougher location restrictions for wind farm installations that could result from a new national RES site framework plan needed to replace the previous plan, now expired as it was launched in 2008 for a five-year period.

The energy and environment ministry, currently seeking a consultant for the new RES site plan’s framework, has raised fears amid the sector as a result of a regional restriction concerning Crete, approved just days ago by energy and environment minister Giorgos Stathakis, who has generally adopted views offering strong support for RES sector development.

The RES site restrictions just endorsed for Crete forbid the installation of new facilities within Natura 2000 areas, part of the EU network of protected areas. Should this framework be implemented, it is believed around 70 percent of Crete’s overall RES capacity will be excluded from utilization.

In comments to energypress, energy and environment ministry officials noted that the national town plan has superior power to regional plans and, as a result, the Natura restrictions for Crete could not take effect.

ELETAEN, the Greek Wind Energy Association, and ESIAPE, Greek Association of Renewable Energy Source Electricity Producers, as well as other green energy groups, have expressed their opposition to the restrictive measure signed by the energy minister for Crete.

Sector officials contend that RES installations are not forbidden from Natura-designated areas anywhere in Europe, adding that such restrictive measures, if imposed in Greece, would essentially stop wind farm development as Natura areas are widespread. Most areas located within Natura territory possess appropriate wind conditions for wind farm installations, sector officials added.

RES officials also noted that the sector already faces tough Natura-related restrictions as well as other conditions, such as distances from monuments (2 km) and houses (500m), all of which is subduing and delaying wind farm development.

At present, it takes investors at least five years to install wind farms from the day they have submitted applications for RES production permits.