Western Macedonia to suspend licensing for green-energy projects

Energy Investments

In the wake of the controversy surrounding the mega solar power plant in one of Greece’s biggest lakes, the Regional Council of Western Macedonia (RCWM) has pushed for the suspension of licensing for renewable energy projects.

The administration seeks to halt ongoing projects and stop the licensing of new ones until a regional framework for spatial planning and sustainable development is completed. The draft mandates the regional and municipal authorities to regulate the renewable energy sector by ensuring equal job opportunities distribution. Control by local administration will also enhance the environmental sustainability of projects.

Reports have indicated that local investors have been denied a chance to participate in the clean energy initiatives dominated by big companies. The proposal by RCWM outlines a plan to give local investors priority during the award of government contractors. Local authorities around Polyfytos Lake have objected to the building of a 500MW floating solar power project. Following this request, RCWM responded by drafting this proposal.

One of Greece’s schemes is to build more photovoltaic (PV) solar power projects to replace coal and thermal plants, which are being phased out gradually. In line with this eradication program, regional authorities have introduced various programs to absorb the workforce previously working on the coal plants. However, some local workers have expressed their dissatisfaction saying these programs are favoring big companies at their expense.

According to the recently released council draft, not all companies have had their licenses suspended. Some of the investors in PV parks have been absolved from this environmental procedure. However, these companies were directed to preserve all agricultural land near their projects.

The draft indicates that regional governments may not phase out all coal and thermal plants. Despite a call by climate experts to eliminate coal plants to curb global warming, Greece is holding on to some plants, such as the 660MW Ptolemaida 5 coal plant, which will run until 2028.

Similarly, the 1.6GW Agios Dimitrios lignite plant and the 330MW Meliti thermal power plant could be left to operate for a more extended period. To reduce carbon emissions, the plants will employ carbon-dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology. Retaining these plants for an extended period will protect the country’s revenue sources and secure jobs.

The proposal also highlighted the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) that transports natural gas from Europe through Greece. This pipeline and other scientific, technical, and institutional energy projects are a top priority for the peninsular country to boost the clean energy sector. The regional administration has partnered with research institutions and municipalities to launch energy cooperatives. In the future, Western Macedonia will bring change in energy institutions and introduce new policies that will boost clean energy production.