Although a large number of renewable energy projects have gained a producer’s certificate or a production license in Greece to date, grid connection, as well as red tape, remain the sector’s main roadblocks. Athanasios Dagoumas, the chairperson of the Greek energy regulatory body (RAE), revealed yesterday at an IENE conference that there are 5,542 permits for renewable energy facilities with a combined capacity of 95 GW.
There are 1,983 wind energy facilities with a total capacity of 32.9 GW licensed. Two more are for the offshore wind (714 MW). RAE has issued 2,706 photovoltaic licenses totaling 59 GW, as well as 45 solar thermal licenses, 540 small hydropower plants, 100 biomass licenses, and 166 hybrid plant licenses in non-connected islands. It is self-evident not all of these plans will come to fruition. Only 10% to 20% of the required renewable capacity for 2030 will be built, according to the chairman.
The total capacity of licensed storage projects has reached 14.3 GW.
Energy storage is a key component of Greece’s 2030 energy and climate plan, particularly in the years after 2025. Many applications for projects involving batteries have already been filed to the regulator, and the number continues to grow.
According to Dagoumas, 181 projects with a combined capacity of 14.3 GW have secured a production license thus far. Fourteen pump storage hydropower units with a total capacity of 3.04 GW are among them. Terna Energy’s 680 MW pump storage plant in Amfilochia, he said, is the biggest energy storage project in the works. He went on to say that 120 battery projects are totaling 9.64 GW, as well as 47 initiatives combining renewables with storage (1.67 GW).
Progress is slowed by red tape and grid issues.
The first major impediment to the development of renewable energy in Greece is the regulator’s ability to handle the enormous number of applications. RAE is understaffed, according to Dagoumas, and local officials are known to be prolonging the procedure in its later stages.
RAE intends to work with the Ministry of the Environment and Energy as well as the operators to resolve some of the license difficulties. RAE will also conduct research on renewable energy bids for power purchase agreements, or PPAs.
Simultaneously, the ministry is going to present to parliament its second reform of the licensing process, with the goal of reducing investment time to a year and a half and streamlining procedures.
Apart from legal and bureaucratic problems, grid connection is the most pressing concern for project completion. Many parts of Greece have overburdened electricity grids, and attempts are being made to either extend the network through additional investment or group projects together to make connections easier.