The Draft National Development Programme for Offshore Wind Farms and the Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment were presented

HEREMA, as the authority responsible for the management of exploration and identification rights of suitable Offshore Wind Farm Organized Development Areas, announced the draft National Offshore Wind Farms Development Programme, at an event held in Athens, on Tuesday, October the 31st, 2023, in the presence of the Minister of Environment and Energy, Mr. Thodoros Skylakakis, the Deputy Minister, Ms. Alexandra Sdoukou and the Secretary General of Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr. Aristotle Aivaliotis.

The presented programme defines the eligible Organized Development Areas (ODA) and estimates the capacity of OWF projects that can be developed, in the mid-term (up to 2030-2032) and long-term (after 2030-2032) horizon. The draft National Programme for the Development of OWF includes 25 areas, covering a total area of 2,712 km2 and with an estimated minimum capacity of 12,4 GW. The majority of the proposed offshore areas are suitable for floating technology. Based on this roadmap, Greece can gain a competitive advantage in fostering new technologies, acquire indigenous know-how and develop the necessary supply chain.

Launching the event, Minister Skylakakis, referring to the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) and the role of the OWF, stated among other things: “Greece, due to its strategic location and its climatic characteristics, has significant comparative advantages in terms of its solar and wind potential, especially offshore. Today, with the announcement of the draft National Offshore Wind Farm Development Programme, we are taking another important step towards achieving the national energy transition targets and addressing climate change. The development of these projects is a national priority not only because it will contribute decisively to our energy independence, but also because it enables us to export green energy in the future. It therefore gives us the opportunity for further economic growth and the opportunity to strengthen our country’s role as a critical regional energy hub.”

Followed by Deputy Minister Sdoukou, she focused on how Greece’s Renewable Energy Sources (RES) landscape has evolved and the initiatives undertaken by the state for their further implementation: “Today’s programme represents the culmination of an effort that began in our ministry in 2021. Offshore wind energy is a pan-European priority, as it is predicted that by 2050 35% of the EU’s electricity could be generated purely from offshore sources. At the same time, it presents a number of benefits for our national energy sector, our national economy and the local communities that will host or be adjacent to offshore wind projects. The National Offshore Wind Development Program sets the framework for the balanced and strategically planned development of offshore wind energy, respecting the environment, alternative uses of our seas and our need for renewable energy.  The completion of the National Programme also confirms the choice we made in 2022 to entrust the responsibility for the development of the national offshore wind farm sector to HEREMA, the state entity with the greatest expertise in offshore energy projects and with the most competent administrative and technical staff. The National Programme that has been presented not only serves the main objective, that of shielding our energy system, but also creates conditions for Greece’s emergence as an energy hub in the wider region.”

Mr. Aristofanis Stefatos, HEREMA’s CEO, underlined: “The draft National Programme is of strategic significance for our country, as highlighted by the administration of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, since it lays the groundwork for the exploitation of offshore wind energy, a new clean source that will contribute decisively to our energy transition. This is a thorough plan, for the development of which HEREMA’s team of experts spent 12 months in close cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, as well as with other Ministries and entities that contributed substantially to the consultation of the eligible areas. We feel proud knowing that the submission of the programme and the SEIA is the first step on a path that will create important opportunities for sustainable development, both economically and socially, and also optimistic to see the strong representation of the national and international investor community at today’s event. We are already preparing for the next steps in order to create the right framework for the rapid development of this new sector.”

It is noted that the plan, which has already been submitted to the Spatial Planning Directorate of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, qualifies a tank of ten (10) eligible areas for development by 2030-2032, with a total capacity of approximately 4.9 GW, mainly for floating projects. The above areas do not include the marine area between Evros-Samothraki, which is defined as an area for the development of pilot OWF projects, according to Law 4964/2022.

More precisely, the eligible OWFODA for the medium-term development phase are located in the following areas:

– Eastern Crete, where it is estimated that projects with a total capacity of 800 MW will be developed

– Southern Rhodes, with a maximum installed capacity of between 300 MW and 550 MW

– In the central Aegean, with a maximum installed capacity of between 200 MW and 450 MW

– In the Evia-Chios axis, with a maximum installed capacity of 300 MW

– In the Ionian Sea, with a maximum installed capacity of 450 MW.

During the event, the advantages and technical parameters of the programme were also presented, as well as the Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) prepared by the LDK Group. HEREMA applied in total 20 exclusion criteria in order to safeguard environmentally sensitive areas and marine activities in the Greek territory. These criteria take into account, among others, issues of national security and passenger navigation, airports, minimum distance from coastline, areas of environmental and cultural importance, tourist activities, aquaculture areas and other uses. The SEIA has already been submitted to the Environmental Licensing Directorate of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, and is expected to be released in the coming days for public consultation with public authorities and the interested public.

In addition, HEREMA commissioned IOBE to conduct a study on the economic benefits from the development of OWF in Greece – including the assessment of the importance of developing a domestic supply chain for their construction and operation – the key findings of which were presented at the event. As highlighted by Mr. George Maniatis, Head of IOBE’s Sectoral Studies Department, according to the study, the deployment of OWF can lead to a boost in GDP of up to €1.9 billion per year on average over the period 2024-2050 and in government revenues of up to €440 million per year. Over the same period, it can make a significant contribution to boosting employment, supporting up to 44.400 jobs per year.

During the presentation of the draft National Programme, the Secretary General of Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr. Aivaliotis focused on the advantages of developing OWF along with the next steps: “OWF are an integral part of Greece’s energy transition efforts and will provide significant benefits to the economy and society. Through a series of actions, such as the development of grid infrastructure, the implementation of appropriate licensing procedures, the mobilization of private sector investments, the stimulation of research and innovation, and the strengthening of the supply chain, we will be able to create favorable industrial, economic and social impacts, while enhancing energy security and the reliability of the electricity system.”