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Greece plans first offshore wind farms to reduce fossil fuel dependence

Greece on Tuesday moved toward building its first offshore wind farms, identifying areas for private development in a draft plan that the current government hopes will lessen the country’s dependence on fossil fuels.

The Mediterranean country, which is surrounded by sea and has strong, steady winds suitable for producing energy, generated more than 50% of its power from onshore wind, solar and hydro last year. The rest of its electricity was produced from greenhouse gas-emitting natural gas, coal and oil.

Greece is aiming to build installed capacity of at least 2 gigawatts from offshore wind by 2030, representing one-tenth of its onshore capacity.

The draft plan includes 25 eligible development areas in the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean seas that will become available in two time periods, some between 2025 and as late as 2032, and some later, said the Hellenic Hydrocarbons and Energy Resources Management Company (HEREMA), which is in charge of the program.

The zones cover a total area of 2,711 square km, with an estimated minimum capacity of 12.4 gigawatts. The majority of zones are suitable for floating technology, HEREMA said.

“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,” Energy and Environment Minister Theodore Skylakakis said.

Environmentalists have said that such farms could harm biodiversity, mainly while they are being built or dismantled and should not be constructed in important ecological areas.

HEREMA said it took into account issues such as environmentally sensitive areas, national security, passenger navigation, areas of cultural importance and tourist activities.

The Hellenic Wind Energy Association (ELETAEN) said that investments topping 6 billion euros will be needed for Greece to achieve its 2-gigawatt target.

For the near term period up to 2032, the plan qualifies 10 eligible areas for installing offshore wind farms including off the islands of Crete and Rhodes, in the central Aegean Sea and in the Ionian Sea, with a total capacity of about 4.9 gigawatts, according to the plan.

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

Source: Reuters