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‘A National Priority’: Greece is Powering Ahead With Plans for First Offshore Wind Farms

The turbines could power 1.5 million Greek homes by 2030, under plans for the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean seas.

Greece is pressing ahead with plans to build its first offshore wind farms, authorities announced in Athens yesterday.

The Mediterranean country – which was badly burned in climate-driven wildfires this summer – is seeking to move away from fossil fuels.

Renewable energy provided over 50 per cent of Greece’s electricity for the first time in the first half of 2023. And the country made headlines last October when it ran solely on renewables, albeit for just five hours.

Onshore wind, solar and hydro made the milestone possible, but the nation of thousands of islands has so far held back from tapping into its offshore wind potential.

Now Greece is identifying areas for private development, under a draft plan to install 2 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, which equates to one tenth of its onshore capacity. It’s enough to power around 1.5 million homes.

“Greece, due to its strategic location and its climatic characteristics, has significant comparative advantages in terms of its solar and wind potential, especially offshore,” said Energy and Environment Minister Theodore Skylakakis.

“The development of these projects is a national priority not only because it will contribute decisively to our energy independence, but also because it enables us to export green energy in the future,” he added during a launch event for the draft National Offshore Wind Farms Development Programme.

Where is Greece building wind farms at sea?

The draft plan includes 25 eligible development areas covering a total area 2,712 square km in the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean seas.

These sites will become available in two time periods, some between 2025 and 2032, and some later, according to the Hellenic Hydrocarbons and Energy Resources Management Company (HEREMA), which is in charge of the programme.

The zones, which will have an estimated minimum capacity of 12.4 gigawatts between them, are located in: eastern Crete, southern Rhodes, the central Aegean, the Evia-Chios Axis and the Ionian Sea.

Floating technology will be suitable for the majority of zones, HEREMA said.

Environmental groups have expressed concerns that offshore wind farms could harm wildlife, particularly while they are being erected, and have warned that they should not be built in ecologically sensitive areas.

HEREMA says it applied 20 exclusion criteria in order to safeguard these areas and marine activities in Greek waters. In commissioning an environmental impact assessment – which is publicly available – the authority says it has also taken into account national security, airports, tourist activities and aquaculture areas.

How will offshore wind farms benefit Greece?

“Offshore wind energy is a pan-European priority, as it is predicted that by 2050 35 per cent of the EU’s electricity could be generated purely from offshore sources,” said Deputy Minister Alexandra Sdoukou.

“At the same time, it presents a number of benefits for our national energy sector, our national economy and the local communities that will host or be adjacent to offshore wind projects.”

Reaching the 2-gigawatt target is expected to require investments over €6 billion.

But according to a separate study on the economic benefits, offshore wind deployment could boost GDP by up to €1.9 billion a year on average between 2024-2050, and support up to 44,400 jobs per year.

Final approval of the plan is expected by the end of the year before designated areas are officially marked out at the end of 2024, HEREMA said.

“The National Programme that has been presented not only serves the main objective, that of shielding our energy system, but also creates conditions for Greece’s emergence as an energy hub in the wider region,” Sdoukou added.

Source : Euronews