Under pressure to cut reliance on pollution-generating fossil fuels for energy production, Greece is stepping up plans to build wind farms on some of its picture-perfect islands that locals fear could scare off tourism.
Since January, a number of Aegean islands have been earmarked to host the massive, modern windmills – islands of the sort used in the Greek tourist board’s TV advertisement showing young couples dancing on white-washed rooftops against a red-and-gold sunset.
The image draws millions of visitors to Greek shores each year, but local authorities fear the idyll they are promoting will not have the same appeal with a forest of huge turbines – some up to 150m high – on the horizon.
“We are not against green energy, but we must also protect the unique landscape of our islands… and that means no turbines over 70m in height,” Dimitris Bailas, regional governor of the Cyclades island complex, told AFP.
Two of the islands considered for the initiative – Yaros and Andros – belong to the Cyclades, the central Aegean archipelago that includes Mykonos and Santorini and is among Greece’s most popular destinations.
Other projected sites include the islands of Lemnos and Lesbos in the northern Aegean.
In line with European Union guidelines and the terms of the Kyoto Protocol, Greece must find alternatives to its dependence on heavy-polluting lignite, or brown coal.
The wind farms are also expected to reduce a national energy deficit that currently forces Greece to import electricity from neighbouring countries, mainly Bulgaria and Macedonia, according to a recent report by the state Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE).
At present, only 6% of Greece’s electricity comes from renewable resources – a figure the European Union wants boosted to 20% by 2010, according to the RAE.
27 August 2007
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