Greek authorities decided to simplify the approval procedures for RES projects and to exclude some of them from environmental impact assessments. The aim of these measures is to reduce the time from the submission of a plan to implement a renewable energy project to its approval to two years.
According to the new environmental law, solar power plant with installed capacity up to 1 MW are exempted from the obligation to perform an environmental impact assessment study. Previously the limit was 0.5 MW.
Also, solar power plants with installed capacity between 1 and 10 MW are put into a special category allowing rapid use-of-land approval for projects. The previous capacity limit was 2 MW.
Wind farms, whose installation is often opposed by some locals and environmental groups, also benefit from this quick approval: the capacity limit for them is also raised to 10 MW, from 5 MW previously.
The installation permit, a further stage in the approval process and a separate one from the environmental impact assessment study, will be tackled next, with the Energy Regulatory Authority allowed to simplify the issuance of such permits.
One of the main aims of the Government’s plan to give priority to renewable energy is to ensure the main producers of lignite, which are set to be phased out, do not suffer. These areas include the cities of Amyntaio and Ptolemaida in the north and Megalopoli in the Peloponnese.
Phasing out lignite is a hot political issue in these areas, where people see the loss of thousands of jobs far outweighing the benefits of going green. Therefore, Greek officials decided to apply to the European Union for permission to adopt tax incentives that will attract businesses to these areas and support existing ones. The tax incentives would include special low taxes and rebates.