ATHENS – At the same time as falling back on coal to help get away from dependency on Russian energy, Greece is looking more toward sustainable and green sources and opened the largest two-sided solar panel park in Europe.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whose New Democracy government’s ambitions to get off coal suffered a setback when Russia invaded Ukraine, drawing sanctions – but which excluded buying fuel from Russia for now – inaugurated the facility, reported Euronews.Green.
He also promised to speed up permits for renewable energy projects as the country seeks to wean itself off polluting and costly imported fossil fuels, the return to using more coal again also hurting efforts to limit climate change.
Greece wants to almost double its installed capacity from renewables to about 19 gigawatts by 2030 but some goals have proved overly ambitious, although the European Union’s hope to get off Russian supplies by 2027 could accelerate it.
The 204-megawatt solar park in the northern Greek town of Kozani was built by Greece’s biggest oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum, one of the largest oil companies in The Balkans, which said it may add battery storage too.
The park will supply power to 75,000 households and connect to the country’s power grid in coming weeks. “This project reflects our national goals for cheap and clean energy from the sun, from the wind, from the water,” Mitsotakis said there.
Greece beat its 2020 goal to use renewables for 21.7 percent of its energy consumption, said the European Union statistics office ELSTAT, and plans to hit 35 percent by 2030.
But that would require faster permission to get around delays in installation and large-scale storage, Greece’s notorious bureacracy having proved deal killers for some projects or setbacks.
Mitsotakis said his government will speed licensing procedures and would specify permits for the construction of large-scale offshore wind parks as a complement to solar power.