The Regional Council of Western Macedonia may propose to suspend all licensing of renewable energy projects and their implementation until spatial and sustainable development planning rules are adopted for the area. It is the most important province for the energy transition plans pushed by Greece’s government.
Following controversy over a floating solar power plant project on one of Greece’s biggest lakes, the majority in the Regional Council of Western Macedonia decided to demand the suspension of all licensing for green energy applications and works until the completion of the regional framework for spatial planning and sustainable development as well as for renewables.
Regional and municipal councils must get a decisive role in the sector so that they can contribute to the creation of green jobs and environmental protection while ensuring the priority for local investors in the segment of renewable energy, the draft document adds. The proposal was launched immediately after the local authorities stood up against covering up to a quarter of lake Polyfytos with solar power plants.
Current plans favor big companies
Greece plans to shut down lignite mines and thermal power plants in Western Macedonia and replace them mostly with photovoltaic technology, while financing programs for affected workers. The area is central to its coal phaseout strategy. Some locals and municipal representatives have argued the plan favors big companies including state-owned Public Power Co. (PPC) and that it marginalizes the role of communities.
The regional authority highlighted potential benefits from the gas delivered through the new Trans Adriatic Pipeline
The regional council pointed out some investors in photovoltaic parks have been exempted from parts of the environmental protection procedure. It also urged the competent authorities to preserve agricultural land.
Lifespan of coal plants could be extended
The document reads it is necessary to consider the possibility to leave the 660 MW Ptolemaida 5 coal power station, currently under construction, operating beyond the 2028 deadline. The regional authority also said the lifespan of the lignite-fueled 1.6 GW Agios Dimitrios and 330 MW Meliti thermal power plants could be extended by applying carbon-dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology, in order to compensate for lost national income and jobs.
The proposal highlights opportunities in the development of scientific, technical and institutional energy capacities and green technology. It also points to potential benefits from the gas from the new Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).
Of note, the regional government recently joined forces with 13 municipalities and the University of Western Macedonia and registered one of the first energy communities or cooperatives of its kind in Europe. The regional council said the firm would work on institutional changes and a clear regulatory framework for renewables and plan investments in green energy production.