Greece slows down European renewable energy

Achelos, Greece – At some point in western Greece, the country’s largest white elephant project sits on the sidewalks.

The Mesohora Dam, which was completed 20 years ago, will be built across the Achelos River, but the reservoir is empty.

There is an unfinished Sikh dam at the bottom of the river.

A.D. When co-workers got up in 2009, the reach of the clay core was smaller than the planned 150 m (492 feet) height, and the pebbles were lower.

The two dams should have produced at least 890 GWh per year; That was enough to create tens of thousands of homes, but Acelos continued to flow around them.

This is because Mesohora and Sikiya, two dams that were not under construction, were part of a two-pronged system. Each year, 600 million tons of water is diverted to Tesseli Plains, Greece’s largest agricultural region, to hold about three-quarters of a billion billion reservoirs between them. The 17-kilometer (10.5-mile) tunnel under the Pindos Mountains is boring, but it is now in danger of collapsing.

Tesseli’s unsustainable agricultural practices have dried up its groundwater, and desertification now threatens the population of one million people. A.D. Since 2000, the Greek Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that Achilles’ transfer has not been properly assessed and that work has been suspended. As a result, more than a billion dollars worth of taxpayers’ money is sinking into the abyss.

He told Al Jazeera that the conservative New Democrat government was revitalizing the dam projects as part of its plan to meet both Greek carbon and irrigation needs, amid growing climate change and clean energy goals.

“Over the next five to six years, the upper Achilles’ work will be completed,” the Ministry of Environment said in a written response to Al Jazeera.

The upper Achelos River is also known as the Asropotamos or White River because of the limestone pebbles that form the river bed. [John Psaropoulos/Al Jazeera]

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis recently announced that the government will begin public and private project support, including irrigation infrastructure, dams, lakes and pipelines, worth over $ 1 billion.

“The government plans to build 21 major irrigation projects,” Mitsotakis said on November 9. “These are very important for a country that invests in the primary industry and they want the farmers not to worry about their main asset, which is water.

Acheloos projects are not included in the current funding.

Turning to the sun and wind

Greece is the slowest growing power in Europe, with enough sun and wind.

A.D. By 2019, only 29 percent of electricity will be generated from renewable energy sources, compared to the EU average of 34 percent.

Portugal, with the same wealth and population as Greece, already generates two-thirds of its electricity from renewable energy sources.

Greece’s problem is partly due to the fact that the PPC, a major power producer, has been fighting for its teeth and nails for 20 years to keep coal as a major source of energy. This power has been largely transferred to private producers of renewable energy and gas. As a result of the PPC policy, the share of the electric market has fallen from 100 percent to 40 percent over the past two decades.

Now, the PPC is turning around and filling the green energy revolution.

The first change came in September 2019, when the Mitsotakis PPC announced that it would eliminate coal by 2028. At the UN General Assembly in September, he indicated that this could now begin in early 2025.

“We have very poor quality. [coal]We have to burn a lot to produce the energy we need, ”said energy expert Militias Aslanglow. “Natural gas produces 300-350 grams of carbon dioxide per megalom. Good quality coal produces up to 800 grams of carbon dioxide per megalom. Our lignite coal produces the best 1,200 grams of carbon dioxide megawatts.

Greek Ptolemaida I-IV power plant is widely planned to eliminate energy use by 2023 over the next decade. [John Psaropoulos/Al Jazeera]

This increased the cost of the PPC, which collected 27 percent of its energy last year. Those pollution bills cost the bills $ 1 billion this year because the price of carbon licenses has doubled to $ 70 a ton since January.

Announces 4 8.4 bn-euro ($ 9.46bn) investment plan to acquire or create 9.1GW renewable energy by 2026. This effectively doubles the current generation capacity of the PC and closes the remaining lignite burn. Plants. It has expanded some capitals by increasing its share of capital and eliminating the Helenic Distribution Network operator by 49% of the low voltage network.

Increasing the cost of carbon licenses is one of the catalysts for change. Another is privatization. The Independent Power Transmission Operator, Greece’s high-voltage transmission line, emerged from the government-controlled PPC during the 2011 Greek economic crisis and has attracted investors ever since.

The result is a $ 5 billion ongoing project that connects the largest Aegean islands to the grid by the end of the decade. This would allow the PPC to stop generating electricity from diesel generators on the islands and reduce its carbon emissions by about three million tons each year.

A.D. By 2030, renewable energy is expected to exceed 61 percent of Greek electricity, surpassing EU targets, according to the new National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP).

Achelos flows indirectly around the site of the Sikiya Dam. [John Psaropoulos/Al Jazeera]

Local opposition

Although the Greeks strongly supported carbon offsets, they often opposed energy projects in their backyards. Local protests killed large wind power projects on the islands of Seriphos and Skyros, and a coordination of environmental groups called for a halt to the Achelos Dam.

Residents of Mesohora village, which has been flooded by the dam, are still opposed to the project. The problem is that Panoatis Kotronis, who served as president of the Mesohora community in the 1980s, has neglected irrigation priorities and green energy priorities.

“It started with a small dam of 80 meters high. [260 feet]”The lake did not flood the village at that time, only about 10 houses. Then, as part of the Acelos diversion project, it reached 135 meters. [443 feet]. ”

High levels of water have created new problems, says Cotronis. “Now the lake reaches below Village Square. But the upper part of the village slides into the lake. They say the study will slip.

The construction of the dams suggested that the Peso Mesohora be completely relocated, but no new location was ever set up.

Locals also have environmental concerns that reflect their skepticism about dams.

“The river is flowing,” said Jorge Sagas, president of the community in 2002-10. “When it doesn’t rain, it’s just a stream. The water flows slowly, making it look greener than any algae that grows on it. We call it Asropotamos [the white river]. ”

Argiro Caraiorgo, a native of Mesohora since his birth, rejects the broader national goal of generating clean energy. “Destroying one area to save another?” She asks. “If you destroy enough small areas, you will destroy the earth.”

Other Mesohora residents see a wide range of good things. Constantine Cotronis, nephew of Panyotis, served as president of the community, pointing to the current energy crisis.

“If the country is not a sovereign state, this will have an impact on its people. Energy will be expensive… [Russian President Vladimir] “Putin will close the pipeline and gas prices will increase,” he said.

Constantine Cotronis supported the construction of the Mesohora Dam. [John Psaropoulos/Al Jazeera]

A.D. In January 2009, Russia’s gas monopoly closed its gas supply to Europe via Ukraine due to a dispute over a debt owed by a Ukrainian operator. Europe relies on more than a third of Russia’s gas, and southeastern Europe is Russia’s monopoly. A.D. The closure of 2009 was a wake-up call for power outages, factory outages and homes without heating, and for European energy safety.

When PPC was formed, the goal was to become self-sufficient. Drawn on water and coal, both are found in abundance in Greece.

Western Greece has become the birthplace of the country’s renewable energy industry, as the climate system moves from west to east and receives most of the rainfall.

It is the site of the country’s first dam on the Arachos River system in 1950. In the 1960’s, three dams were built on the lower reaches of Acelos. The PPC collected 14 percent of its energy from hydroelectric power last year, mostly from arctic and acrylic.

Completion of the Mesohora and Sikiya dams is likely to spark new controversy, but this time, locals may not be able to withstand the onslaught. This is because the 2018 law encourages Greeks to install solar panels on the roofs of 4.5 million homes in the country, which will increase the participation of citizens in green energy.

According to a recent study by the Environmental Protection Tank, Greenstone has a capacity of 466 megawatts, representing 4% of the country’s renewable energy and an additional 4,235MW.

“I am installing solar panels on my roof. [in Trikala]”Says Constantine Cotronis. “When I choose the most environmentally friendly energy source in the house, I can’t say I will oppose it elsewhere.”

A wall near the Mesohora Dam calls on residents to ‘fight for land and freedom’ – many surrounding villages oppose Achelos blockade [John Psaropoulos/Al Jazeera]

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