Renewable energy sector in Greece

EnergyTechnical ArticlesSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 1/2020 • 23.03.2020

According to Enterprise Greece, the Invest and Trade Agency of the country, Greece is uniquely positioned to play a significant role in the broader region’s energy markets, located at the crossroads between East and West. “The ample availability of renewable energy potential (wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal, solar and solar thermal) combined with ongoing large-scale infrastructure projects involving Greece show that the country will be a key player in the formulation of the EU energy mix and will provide significant investment opportunities in all energy industries”, the official report states.

The Greek energy system is characterized by increased RES electricity production and improved energy efficiency, reflecting the country’s efforts to adopt European and national policies.

 

Overview

The energy sector in Greece has a potential to grow significantly in the coming years, driven by a number of significant factors. Among them is the required optimization of the energy mix. Measures are aimed at the reduction of fossil-fuel generated electricity and increasing the contribution from RES. “This shift will be driven both by the revised EU policy of renewable energy sources by 2030, and by the preference for cheaper energy sources such as natural gas”, the investment agency report also says.

The country pledged to update its national targets for renewable energy and bump up the share of wind, solar and other renewables to 33%, 35% and 27% of the energy consumption respectively by 2030. In late 2019 Greece also announced its plans to phase out coal entirely by 2028.

Greece enjoys more than 250 days of sunshine - or 3000 hours of sun a year, and has a strong wind capacity. Due to those favorable climate conditions, the country possesses significant untapped generation potential – particularly in renewables – which can enhance the EU energy mix, Enterprise Greece concludes.

 

Solar energy

Solar energy is playing an increasingly important part in the energy mix of Greece. The country has high levels of solar irradiation with an average global horizontal irradiation level of more than 1500 kWh/m2. With more than 4,1 million m2 (2,9 GWth) of solar thermal systems installed, Greece has the second largest total capacity in Europe after Germany, official data shows. The Greek market mostly consists of individual solar water heaters of the thermosiphon type. There is still a significant potential for larger solar thermal systems in the tertiary sector and in industry.

“There has only been a marginal increase of 1 MW in the installed solar PV capacity in 2016 compared to the figures at the end of 2015. The total installed solar PV capacity by the end of 2016 accounted for 2605 MWp, out of which 375 MW of small PV systems below 10 kWp have been installed under the Special Photovoltaic Rooftop Programme.

During the year 2016, a total of 3417 GWh was produced by solar PV which thus became the third most important RES in terms of generation (after large hydro-power and wind power), producing 25,4% of RES electricity and 6% of total electricity in Greece. A total of 512 GWh was produced by PV systems on rooftops which have been installed under the Special Photovoltaic Rooftop Programme”, the “Greece Energy Situation” report, published by Energypedia, says.

Current energy targets of the country include boosting the share of solar energy up to 35% of the total energy consumption till 2030. The government is working to take installed PV capacity to 7,7 GW by 2030, up from the current records of 2,6 GW-plus.

 

Wind energy

The wind resources in Greece are among the most attractive for energy production in Europe, with a profile of more than 8 meters/second and/or 2500 wind hours in many parts of the country, official data shows.

Greece has some of the most attractive sites for the use of wind energy in the Old Continent, with average capacity factors of around 25% for the mainland and 30% for the islands. The economic wind energy potential in Greece is estimated at 10 000-12 000 MW.

The national capacity target for wind energy was 7500 MW until 2020, including 300 MW of offshore wind energy. The installed capacity for wind energy has increased by 279 MW or almost 13,3% in 2016 compared to the figures at the end of 2015, making 2016 the second best year for the Greek wind energy sector in terms of new installations.

“In particular, a total capacity of 2370 MW of wind parks was installed in Greece by December 2016 compared to 2091 MW installed by the end of 2015. Of this, a total capacity of 323 MW of wind turbines has been installed on the NIIs, out of which almost 62% on Crete. The electricity generation from wind energy during 2016 was of 5145 GWh, compared to 4621 GWh by December 2015. In 2016, wind energy took the second place among RES in terms of total electricity generation, accounting for 38,3% of RES electricity and 9% of total electricity generation in Greece”, the Energypedia report states.

According to the Hellenic Wind Association, wind energy in Greece grew significantly in 2018. “More specifically, last year 103 new wind turbines were connected to the grid with a total capacity of 191,6 MW, which corresponds to an annual growth rate of 7,2% compared to the end of 2017. The total of wind capacity at the end of 2018 either in commercial or test operation stood at 2828,5 MW. This capacity is installed mostly in the interconnected system (2518,5 MW) and non-connected islands (310 MW of which 15,43 MW in repowering). Furthermore, at the end of 2018 over 500 MW of new wind farms were under construction, entering operation within the next 18 months”, the report also informs.

In late 2019 the country pledged to boost the share of wind energy to 33% in the total energy mix by 2030, while the targeted share of other renewables is 27%.

 

Biomass and biofuels

Greece is committed to increasing its share of biofuels to 10% of the final energy consumption. From 17 plants in 2010, to April 2019 the installed capacity grew to 20 biomass and 45 biofuel units.

“Biodiesel has been used to provide at most 7% of the blend volume since 2009. The binding commitments of the Greek government to replace 10% of current transport fuels with biofuels by 2020 (currently mixing 7% biodiesel with diesel and 1% of biogas with gasoline) translate into measurable opportunities within the next decade.

Although Greece is not developing its biogas production rapidly, its use of substrate is essentially focused on waste valorization: landfill and sewage plants are massive in the country, and exclusively based on waste. The 20 small agricultural plants use mainly agricultural residues (92% of total substrate use), and only 2% of dedicated energy crops.

Biomass and biofuels are strong markets with high growth potential. In Greece, the agricultural sector accounts for more than 5% of GDP, more than three times the EU average of 1,8%. Companies involved in biomass and biofuels will therefore find abundant sources of raw materials”, official statistics show.

 

Geothermal energy

Greece lies in a geographic position that is favorable to geothermal resources, both for high-temperature and low-temperature systems. High-temperature resources, suitable for power generation coupled with heating and cooling, are found at depths of 1-2 kilometers on the Aegean Islands of Milos, Santorini and Nisyros. Other locations that are promising at depths of 2-3 kilometers are on the Islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samothraki as well as the basins of Central-Eastern Macedonia and Thrace.

In April 2017 the Minister of Environment and Energy signed a Ministerial Decision granting permit to the Municipality of Alexandroupolis to distribute thermal energy from the geothermal field of Antia-Aristina with a thermal output of 9,8 MWth. The station is located in the municipal section of Aristos, Municipality of Alexandroupolis and is intended for the service of consumers within the geographical area of the Municipality of Alexandroupolis, for space heating or hot water.

 

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