Greece is making significant strides in the establishment of its inaugural offshore wind farms as the conservative government unveils a draft plan that seeks to reduce the nation's reliance on fossil fuels. The Mediterranean country, blessed with abundant sea surroundings and consistent winds conducive for energy generation, aspires to diversify its energy sources.
In 2022, Greece already harnessed over 50% of its electricity from onshore wind, solar, and hydro power. The remainder of its energy needs was met by fossil fuels, including natural gas, coal, and oil, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
With the objective of constructing a minimum of 2 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity by 2030, equivalent to one-tenth of its onshore capacity, the draft plan outlines 25 eligible development areas located in the Aegean, Ionian, and Mediterranean seas. These areas will become available in two phases, with some available between 2025 and extending as late as 2032, as detailed by the Hellenic Hydrocarbons and Energy Resources Management Company (HEREMA), the entity overseeing the program.
These designated zones collectively encompass an area of 1,047 square miles (2,711 square kilometers) and are estimated to offer a minimum capacity of 12.4 GW. Notably, most of these areas are suitable for the utilization of floating wind turbine technology, enhancing their feasibility.
Energy and Environment Minister Theodore Skylakakis emphasized the national significance of these projects, citing their potential to bolster Greece's energy independence and open avenues for future green energy exports.
While the development of offshore wind farms holds immense promise for Greece's energy landscape, concerns have been raised by environmentalists regarding potential harm to biodiversity, especially during construction and decommissioning phases. They contend that these projects should steer clear of ecologically sensitive regions.
HEREMA has assured that it has taken into account various factors, including the preservation of environmentally sensitive areas, national security considerations, passenger navigation routes, sites of cultural importance, and tourist activities.
According to the Hellenic Wind Energy Association (ELETAEN), fulfilling Greece's 2 GW offshore wind target will necessitate investments exceeding 6 billion euros (approximately $6.34 billion).
The draft plan, encompassing the near-term period until 2032, designates ten eligible areas for offshore wind farm development, including locations off the islands of Crete and Rhodes, in the central Aegean Sea, and the Ionian Sea, with a cumulative capacity of approximately 4.9 GW.
The final approval of this ambitious plan is anticipated by year-end, followed by the official demarcation of designated areas by the conclusion of 2024, as outlined by HEREMA. Greece's foray into offshore wind signifies a crucial step toward sustainable energy solutions and a reduced dependence on fossil fuels.