Renewable Energy Sources and Islands

By Eva Michalena and Prof. Joseph Stefanou
November 2006

Ms. Michalena is a Special Advisor at the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE), in Athens, Greece and a Researcher at the NTUA Laboratory of Urban Design. Professor Stefanou conducts research at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). → See also:

Recent studies of the Laboratory of Poleodomical Synthesis of the NTUA dealing with the issue of the Landscapes’ physionomy, have leaded to a majority of interesting conclusions relative to the issue of the esthetical rendering of Landscapes, especially of the sensible ones of islands. The equipments of Renewable Energy Sources (RES), if small and well planned and if adjusted to the scale of our islands, could not only not disturb the environment but also to contribute in a positive way to the physiognomy of the microscale of our islands. This fact together with the financing of these equipments by the European Union, make this kind of technologies the optimum solution for our small Greek islands. The specific features of the greek islands on the other hand (intense solar sunlight, strong summer winds, energy loads, mass tourism) during summer months encourage the usage of RES which are here to ensure economic benefits for the distanced complexes of islands and to offer motives of development to the islanders. Through the best planning of RES, the development of the islands is no more based on the sterile exploitation of their geographical position, but on an intense activation motivated by the principles of the sustainable development and the histority of energy production by natural resources promoted by the innovations of RES equipments with respect to the reservation of the physionomy’s identity of our islands. To this point we have to draw the attention to the basic concern of which we have to be care, the concern of the „carrying capacity” of the Landscapes. The islander space includes the particularity of the obligatory limitation by the sea and of the strictly determined space, fact which imposes the even bigger attention to what this „carrying capacity” is concerned. The methods and the ways of supporting this procedure are the content of this present paper, whereas its conclusion offer a proposal – scepticism for the simultaneous and effective action of investors, public authorities, researchers and local communities, a scepticism which has to be proceeded into results.

1. Introduction

The exploitation of RES equipments is a result of international decisions and is controlled by Governmental policies relative to the natural resources and the economic potential of each country. The greek islands, rich in energy natural resources, active paths between the Middle East and the Europe, are islands of very small size, strictly limited by the sea, with a poor – the most of times – energy transport and distribution insfrastructure.

In the Laboratory of Poleodomic Synthesis of the National Technical University of Athens, we are developing an approach of RES planning into the greek islands, in order to be developed for their development especially as far as the development of their energy resources is concerned and always in relation to the „carrying capacity” of the islands on a material, pshychological and ideological level.

Given the fact that the energy supply is necessary for the islands – especially during the periods of tourist loads – and under the condition that this energy will be produced by well planned RES, we share the opinion that these technologies could be incorporated to the islander landscape in a contributing way to the cultural and esthetical conservation of the islands features, elevating in parallel their characteristic physiognomy and their historical character.

This paper begins with the historical and legislative framework of RES licencing and installation. A discussion of the current existence, the benefits and the problems of RES into the greek islands is also presented, whereas the next of the paper looks at the parameters surrounding the model which has to be formulated in order to count the „energy currying capacity” of each island.

2. Current RES Situation in the Islands

2.1. Historical & Legislative Framework

Greek islands possess vast wind and solar reserves and consequently the history of Greece in terms of producing energy by natural resources is very old (beginning of the years of ‘30), whereas we had the first attempt of a wind generation in an islander greek territory in the years of ‘80.

Greek Laws 2234/96 and 2773/99 (following the Community Directive 96/92/ÅÊ (1)), and 3175/2003 (2) (following the Community Directive 2003/54/ÅÊ) structure the basic greek legislative framework which permits the RES equipments introduction into the gree energy status in the larger picture of the greek energy market’s deliberation.

2.2. Current Situation

The result of the greek energy market’s deliberation and the exploitation of renewable sources of energy in Greece, was the licencing by the Ministry of Development of over 170 projects of RES.

As far as biomass and geothermy are concerned there are reserves in the islands of Milos, Nisyros & Lesvos but they remain inexploitable, whereas wind ad solar systems present potential of further developpment.

According the data of Regulatory Authority for Energy, in Cyclades the licenced capacity amounts of 120 MW, whereas the 4,41MW have an installation authorization and some 7,5 MW already function.

In Dodecaneses, the licenced capacity amounts of 82,19MW, whereas the 22,91MW have an installation authorization and some 8,15MW already function.

In the rest of the islands finally (including Crete), the licenced capacity amounts of 450,789MW, whereas the 75MW have an installation authorization and some 108,545MW already function.

In all islands of Greece, from the 652,854 licenced MW the 102MW have already an installation authorization and another 124,18MW function; whereas the total energy produced is up to 234.324,601 MWH. The declination observed between the licenced and the installed capacity is due to problems such as the environmental and legislative restrictions, the deficit of networks, the special geomorphological features of the islands, the local reactions, and the cost of RES equipments [Table 1].

Table 1
  Population Capacity
(in MW)
Produced Energy
(in MWH)
Production Licences 170 652,854  
Installations Licences 23 102,32  
Operation Licences 45 124,18 234.324,601

The relationship between the licenced and the functioning stations of RES per islander region is described in graph [1], whereas another 90MWare expected to be functioning up to 2006 (3) :

Graph 1

The majority of RES has been licenced in Crete [Graph 2].

Graph 2

The majority of RES are windparks [Graph 3].

Graph 3

3. Model of a Good RES Planning

3.1. Reasons of further RES installation

Although the sense of the „sustainable development” is restricted in islands, given the fact that the islands concern the 4% of the European land and only the 13 million of European citizens (4), the production of pure energy is a result of an international and European environmental policy, resulting by the Protocol of Kyoto (5), the relative Directive 2001/77/ÅÊ of the European Union (6), the White Book of 1997 for the RES (7) and the Directive concerning the energy efficiency in buildings (8).

In any case, the development of production energy’s projects is a priority of essential importance for the islander economies, because except the richness of natural resources indicated in islands, the Peripheries where these islands belong, present more and more increased rates of economic development (9) a fact which obliges the local authorities to enlarge their energy infrastructure.

Moreover, because of the increased tourist traffic during the summer months, the demand for energy is vertically increasing (almost 45%) (10), and as a consequence major problems of inadequate energy provision of the islands are encountered. 

For technical reasons, on the other hand, the usage of RES is advisable, since the cost of their feeding in energy from external sources is usually very high (11) and most of the islands are not interconnected between them and with the Mainland of Greece. RES equipments offer also the potential of extension depending on the energy needs arised, and altogether the potential of storing the producing energy, whereas their use is aimed to cover energetically dispersed energy applications (agricultural, hothouses, hotels, units of desalination, etc), applications useful especially in periods of tourist loads.

RES are also preferred for esthetic reasons, in order to avoid the negative phenomena of dieselmachines (smokes, chimneys, etc) and for reasons of harmonisation (through a good planning) with the existing, local, natural particularities.

In a social, finally, level, the development of pure energy projects results in the cultivation of a feeling of environmental responsibility and, the most important, in the assurance of labour posts and of enriching the local community funds (12).

3.2. A need for a poly-parametric model of decision making

The islands present different particularities in their economic and social development. Because of their small dimensions and of their relatively restricted communication with the Mainland, they create economies with some degree of autonomy. Although there has been noticed an important improvement of their communication and of their economic development through mainly tourism, their basic socioeconomic features haven’t been turned over, whereas, as far as the installation of RES is concerned, the particularity of each islander Periphery, the problems of the islands’ development and the deficits in infrastructures especially during the periods of tourist intentions, in combination with the great timedistance from the commercial centers and the weak degree of accessibility particularly in status of negative time conditions, imposent an approach of their planning, based on the usage of multiple criteria and parameters, in order to count each time the „curring energy capacity (13) of each island.

The sense of the „currying energy capacity” of the islands concern the result of many coordinates which have something to do with the need for the installation of energy equipments, their charge and their consequences on the islander environment (more energy means the arrival of more tourists, so more charge on the island). Through a polyparametric model which will count the carrying capacity of each islander region, it would be possible to reduce the negative consequences of the productive procedure of human activities and at the same time to satisfy the demands of local populations for energy. The main parameters which have to be included in the model, are the following:

3.2.1. The dimensions of the islands and of the population, the needs in energy and the existence of natural resources

As far as the dimensions of the islands is concerned and especially for the smaller islands, some factors like the credibility, the flexibility, the time of construction, the easy planning, the escorting works, and the restricted capabilities of connection to the network, impose the installation of small windparks (with 3-4 WindGenerators of small size) and of photovoltaic panels, whereas the energy needs of the population are increased especially in tourist periods.

The existent (14) and the natural resources to be discovered, must be co-evaluated for the choice of RES equipments which have to be chosen for installation, under priority.

3.2.2. The development of tourism and the predominance of other economic activities

The tourist development is an additional parameter, which has to be co-evaluated, given the fact that the tourism in islands has been increased worldwide from 1950 5%.

The wonderful climate and the cultural heritage of Mediteranean countries, have established her as the more significant pole of tourist attraction, carrying the 30% of the international tourism (15) (16), whereas the 113.000 inhabitants of Cyclades multiply by five every summer (17).

The most wide-spread form of Tourism, especially in the small islands, is the one of „Mass Tourism” which concerns the construction of hotel, transport and other infrastructures, a need which in combination with the challenge of competitiveness and the environmental worries which predominate in people’s conscience and also are imposed by the European Union, offer a marvelous opportunity for the promotion of effective energy politics, the exploitation of RES and the reasonable usage of energy in the hotel sector (18).

3.2.3. Technical Parameters:

We have to take into account technical parameters of comportment of RES equipments (for example wind measures, meteorological data, windgenerators technical features, the Network features etc).  

3.2.4. Innovations

In the counting of carrying energy capacity of the islands, we have also to include the new technological discoveries which are ready to appear in a given time horizon which has to be pointed out as „year of reference” for the specific pourcentage of RES intrusion in the islands. Hybrid systems for example (combinations of wind generators with hydraulics or photovoltaics), the systems of desalination, the erection of bioclimatic buildings, etc.

3.2.5. Economic Parameters

Each activity of production consists an economic activity, meaning that each decision relative to the electricity’s production, couldn’t be made without the co-estimation of economic parameters, such as the cost of energy’s production from the RES stations (cost of investment, operational cost, cost of maintenance and cost of dismantlement), the Beneficial Time of Life and the financing mechanisms.

3.2.6. Esthetic parameters

Greek islands are characterized by particular morphological and territorial features, rich in flora and fauna, transformed human environment, rich cultural heritage and rich visible resources. This kind of features, transform these regions into poles of an international ecological and cultural heritage. For sensible ecosystems of this kind, the danger of visible disturbing is very important and needs a balanced handling, during which the vertical feature of the wind generator (for example) if it is well exploited and harmonically combinated to the infertile and rocky territories of the Cycladean islands could make the Cycladean landscape ideal to hospitalize a form like that. This installation though, presupposes a deep and thorough morphological research of the Cyclades’ landscape.

To this approach, is useful to imagine the creation of a proper Study called „Study of Emergence of the Local Physiognomy” (19) through RES equipments: In order to avoid the ennoying results and due to the fact that Greek islands are uniform entities consisted of island of different local types, we realize that the essential here is to indiquate at a first step their differences and their comparative advantages, and afterwards to point out their particularities through RES equipments, exactly as it happened in the old times with windmills which used to point out the particularities of each Cycladean island.

3.2.7. Environmental & Planning restrictions

Small islands (such as greek islands) are considered as sensible ecosystems due to their restricted space and resources and their long coasts. The reversal of the island ecological balance could result in many successive negative consequences. We should then take into account the environmental restrictions imposed by Districts to the RES investors, as well as the protection of special type (NATURA 2000for example (20)) in which only specific usages and activities are permitted. We also take into account the parameters which are to be included in the District Plans of Planning & Sustainable Development (21) for the Viable Spatial Development (22) of the island Districts as a result of the Greek Low 2742/1999 and the consequent decisions of the Supreme Administrative Courts of Greece (23).

The District Plan for the viable spatial development of the North Aegean’s District for the period 2000-2015 for example (24) includes a mild a balanced economic and social development, which respects the particular conditions of the islands which belong to this District and doesn’t destroy the natural and cultural environment neither neglects their basic traditional features.

3.2.8. Greek and international legal restrictions

As far as the energy equipments are concerned and in accordance with the existent decisions of the Supreme Administrative Courts of Greece, islands are accepting only a mild development (25) which indulge only as mild energy system, system which consists of energy production by renewable energy sources (wind, solar etc).

In following decisions of State Council whatsoever, the above mentioned international sources of inspiration are expanded to further relative „programs of United Nations which concern the more specific problems of the small islands’ viable development” (26).

4. Conclusions

By recapitulating the above analysis and by focusing our attention to the necessary actions which are needed to be taken into force regarding the increasing tourist development and the consequent usage of energy, we conclude that these actions are mainly the following:

The creation – in collaboration with the Local Societies and relevant Studies (of emergence of the Landscape’s Physiognomy, the carrying capacity e.t.c.) of a scientific model of decisions taking which will include proper parameters (environmental, economic, physiognomistic, aesthetic, etc), is indicated as an essential tool towards this aim. Through this model we will quantify into a practical level the signification of the „carrying energy capacity” which is already introduced to the greek legislative framework as a term especially for the islander places (28).

What is true is that the time is very limited for making experimentations, but the same limited are the margins of sustainable development for the greek islands which are considered as precious resources of the natural and cultural resources of Greece and consequently as viable factors for the further tourist development of Greece.

References - Bibliography

  1. Directive 96/92/EC (L27/20, 30-01-97): "Common rules of internal market of electricity." This directive constitutes the first essential step for the gradual creation of an open and competitive market of electricity in the European Union.
  2. "Exploitation of geothermal potential, tele-heating and other provisions" (Official Journal Of The Hellenic Republic A'207).
  3. Site of the Regulatory Authority for Energy
  4. Presentation of  D’Ayala. Pier Giovanni, General Secretary INSULA (UNESCO).
  5. „States-member have to decrease the emissions of their greenhouse gases until 8% at the time period 2008-2012” - Council Decision 2002/358/EC of 25 April 2002, reported in the approval by the European Union of Kyoto Protocol [Official Journal L130, 15.05.2002].
  6. According to Directive 2001/77/EK of 27 September 2001 of the European Union, "the 12% of crude domestic consumption of energy has to be emanated from Renewable Sources of Energy until 2010". For Greece in particular this percentage has been determined to be 20,1%.
  7. Strategy of RES doubling in the energy balance of European Union from 6% to 10%.
  8. Directive 2002/91/EC on the Energy Performance of Buildings of the European Parliament and of the Council, Official Journal of the European Commission, December 2002.
  9. Per capita Crude Domestic Product of Regions bigger than Per capita Crude Domestic Product of Greece (Source:
  10. The difference of population between summertime and winter has as result the intense fluctuation of energy demand between these seasons. The biggest demand of power (peak) - for example in the island of Ikaria - for year 2000 it was 6.150KW and was presented in the means of August. In the islands in particular, air-conditioning at the summer-time absorbs the 35% of produced electric energy. The Public Power Corporation of Greece appreciates that the annual energy demand will triple up to 2025 because of the continuous tourist growth with increased energy demand in particular during the summer months. [PARASKEVOPOULOS, A. 2004, "Tehno-economical analysis of a hybrid Wind Reversible Hydroelectric System in Ikaria", Bulletin of the Hellenic Association of Qualified Mechanical engineers-electricians, Copy [370] September, p.49]
  11. Conference on „Renewable Energies for Islands – Towards 100% RES Supply”, Chania, June 2001
  12. According to the article 1 of the Common Ministerial Decision 2001 the "producers of electric energy from renewable sources of energy, are charged with special retributive end of height 2% on the price of sale of energy in favour of the Municipality or Community in the limits of which function the units of RES" [Official Journal of The Hellenic Republic B 826/28.6.2001 No D6/F1/11444 "Determination of height and process of retributive end in favour of the Local Authorities from producers of electric energy with use of renewable sources of energy"].
  13. The Principle of Carrying Capacity is founded in the case law of the State Council as this was expressed particularly in its decisions 3406/01, 637/98 and also in the 247/03, 636/02, 536/02, 535/02, 432/01.
  14. Greece has to present more than 3.000 hours of sunlight, while the availability of solar energy has reached the 1.900KWH/m² per year [DASCALAKI, BALARAS, „Xenios – a methodology for assessing refurbishment scenarios and the potential of application of RES and RUE in hotels", Energy and Buildings 36 (2004) 1091 – 1105].
  15. 220 millions of tourists per year, a population expected to increase at 50% next during the next 20 years [DASCALAKI, BALARAS, „Xenios – a methodology for assessing refurbishment scenarios and the potential of application of RES and RUE in hotels. Energy and Buildings 36 (2004) 1091 - 1105].
  16. According EUROSTAT, the number of hotels in Europe has been estimated to be 200.000, with a faculty of 9,3 millions of beds. Roughly half from the European hotels, are situated in Mediterranean countries of Mediterranean.
  17. ELECTRICITE DE FRANCE Archipel Guadelupe „The introduction of Wind Power into insular electricity systems”, EuroCarribean RES Conference, 30th May 2002.
  18. European hotels consume 39TWH of energy each year, while the medium total energy consumption for each hotel fluctuates from 250 KWH/m² for the small hotels until 450KWH/m² for the bigger ones. The 61% of electric energy is consumed for heating and air-conditioning, the 25% for various services and the 15% for water heating. In Greece, the annual energy demand in the hotels has been estimated to be 4,2TWH, which represents the 28% of total energy demand in the sector of –not domestic - buildings. The relevant size and percentage in France is 13.25TWH (18%) while in Spain 35%. [DASCALAKI, BALARAS, „Xenios – a methodology for assessing refurbishment scenarios and the potential of application of RES and RUE in hotels ", Energy and Buildings 36 (2004) 1091 - 1105.]
  19. The „Study Of Emergence of Local Physiognomy” is a concept created in the Laboratory of Poleodomic Synthesis of the National Technical University of Athens: This Study consists in the indication of the basic morphemes which formulate the multidimensional image of a landscape (visible, acoustical, odorous etc) which responses to the five senses of a human being and which includes the „qualities” of this specific landscape. Energy equipments could contribute to the transformation of landscapes as „morphemes”.
  20. NATURA 2000 was created after the application of Directive of Ecosites 92/43/EC, which was incorporated in the Greek legal order with the Common Ministerial Decision 33318/3028/28-12-1998. In this frame the environmental management of individual regions which include the recognized lists of sensitive and appreciable ecosystems is included, as well as the activation of institutional frame of Law 1650/1986 which emphasizes the protection, the appointment and the projection of Landscapes of a particular natural beauty and their integration in networks of soft activities and investments of development. The Law 3044/22 founded the first Institution of Management for protected region of network NATURA 2000 in the Region of Southern Aegean.
  21. In the field of territorial planning the signification is expressed by the specialisation of general principles of sustainability, which are worked out in world level according to AGENDA 21, as she was shaped in Rio in 1992 and was promoted further in the Conference of Johannesburg 2002. That principle was constitutionally guaranteed by the revision of article of 24 of the Constitution 2001, and was impressed for the first time in a national level with law 2508/1997 for the „Viable built-up development" and, then, with Law 2742/1999 titled "Territorial planning and sustainable development. [C. VALATSOS, "The sustainable development today. Significance, legal frame and challenges - questions which emerge"]
  22. The Council of Greek State condenses his modern jurisprudential attitude, pronouncing that "the fundamental rule of sustainable development has a value, in particular, for the islands, of which the development, the built-up, the tourist and in general the economic one, should be connected to the maintenance of their character and the islander anthropogenic and natural environment and landscape and not to violate their carrying capacity, for being traditional anthropogenic systems and sensitive ecosystems" (see Council of Greek State 99/2004, 94/2004, 247/2003, 636/2002, 633/2002 etc).
  23. Decision 2569/2004 of the Fifth Department of Council of Greek State, with which the Court judges that the installation licencing of a wind park "is granted only under the condition that the development of Special or Regional Frameworks of Planning and Sustainable Development has been preceded, according the articles 7 and 8 of the Law 2742/1999.
  24. The principle of the islander sustainable development is founded (like the general principle of sustainable development) on the provisions of articles 24 and 106 of the Constitution. These provisions, combined with the principle of the social state, which is guaranteed expressly in the article 25 paragraph 1 of the Constitution, are referred to the three dimensions of development, thus the economic, the social and the environmental one. Apart from the above provisions, the Constitution includes, however, special reports for the islands.
  25. According to decision 2805/1997 of the Council of Greek State "from the combination of articles 24 and 106 of the Constitution and the articles 2 and 130 R of Treaty of the European Union (Maastricht), which was ratified with law 2077/1992, the fundamental rule of sustainable development results, according which only mild technical works and interventions are allowed, which are characterized as viable and permissible. This is of value for the energy works as well.
  26. See "declaration of International Conference Barbados 1994, Program INSULA", as well as "the Treaty of Maastricht and the beginnings of Statement of Rio"
  27. Like the creation of Intergroupe des îles of the European Parliament (Brussels, 25/10/1994) {D’AYALA. Pier Giovanni, General Secretary INSULA (UNESCO)} in 1989, was founded the INSULA (International Scientific Council for Island Development), which constitutes an international not-governmental organism, financed by the UNESCO and the European Union, aiming at: a)the management of resources of small islands, v)the issuing of technical aid where this is required, and c)the development of strategies for sustainable development.
  28. STEFANOY, I. "The Carrying Capacity of the islands" Lecture in the Open University in the frames. Courses in the Chamber of Environment, January 2005, Athens


Copyright © 2006, ECO Services International