A company seeking to build Greece's first offshore wind farm has been granted a production licence by the country’s Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE). This allows the developer, RF Energy through its subsidiary City Electric, to proceed with environmental permitting and to negotiate a grid connection.
Speaking with Windpower Offshore, project manager Antonis Menegas, explained that the National Bank of Greece has signed a letter of intent, indicating its willingness to provide financing for the €2 billion project. However, Menegas acknowledges that such a letter is not binding and that RF Energy has had talks with other European funding institutions and is open to discussions with experienced offshore wind developers.
The 498MW project is earmarked for waters northeast of the island of Lemnos, in the northern Aegean Sea.
Environmental licensing is likely to progress quickly, since several elements of the process have already been completed, including a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) by Greek’s environment ministry, explained Menegas.. The site was chosen because it has no known environmental sensitivities and is not within or near a Natura 2000 protected site.
Environmental permitting and grid connection negotiations may be completed in time to allow construction to begin in late 2014 or early 2015, however, Menegas admits that necessary onshore infrastructure, such as port facilities, are not yet in place, and that uncertainty about whether Greece will remain within the Euro represents a significant obstacle.
Nevertheless, there remains the potential for a substantial offshore wind farm to be built in time to contribute to Greece meeting its EU 2020 renewable energy targets.