Installing wind turbines on the Greek islands, part 1

Juni 18, 2018
Stylianos Marinakis

This is the first in a series of articles in which we share our view of working on the Greek islands. A recently won project with the Greek utility PPCR took us on a very exciting journey.

During the last couple of years, EWT studied the potential of wind turbines on islands, since it’s EWT’s aim to provide energy generation close to where it’s being used. Remote locations, and islands are often not connected to the national grid, are dependent on expensive diesel to generate electricity and often have reliability and stability issues.

As a result, we won a tender of the Greek utility company PPC Renewables, a subsidiary of PPC (Greece’ largest power generation company) last year, to install 22 wind turbines on 9 different islands in Greece; Evia, Mykonos, Limnos, Chios, Lesvos, Karpathos, Ikaria, Samos and Psara. As most of these islands run on autonomous diesel generators, with very high, increasing, fuel costs, adding a wind turbine will reduce the energy cost for the utility significantly. EWT turbines were found to be the ideal solution for these Greek islands, not only because of the reliable technology (direct drive, fully rated converter, park controller etc.) but also due to our experience with remote and off-grid applications. Furthermore, low noise and size/power ratio can make them the ideal for island applications, as these turbines will be installed close to the local inhabitants.

All the sites in this project, except for the island Mykonos, are existing wind parks that will be repowered. For this reason, one of the first steps to be performed, even before the preparation of the installation site was to dismantle and remove the old turbines.

Finding the right local partner
Due to their locations, the majority of the Greek islands have some unique characteristics that give more complexity to the entire project. Logistical challenges need to be considered, such as narrow roads, harbors that are not designed to transport large structures such as wind turbines, etc. The first thing we realized was that local partners are the key. EWT always tries to involve locals in all its projects around the world and obviously Greece wouldn’t be the exception. However, due to the complexity it is vital that each of the partners would have the necessary experience to ensure the success.

Taking the community on our journey
Making the project a success, means you need to have all stakeholders on board. Part of this is getting community commitment, and involving the locals. For EWT it is important to invest in the local communities also for the technical know-how and support. Therefore, for this specific project local technical experts are hired to perform for example the necessary studies but also locals with expertise on barges.   At the same time, and it order to make the transportation of the wind turbines smoother for the local communities, EWT decided to have a series of meetings with the local officials (i.e. mayors of the islands) to further strength the support of the local communities and minimize the disturbance and the impact on the local way of living due to transportation and construction works.

In addition to that, the local DNO is involved regarding all the options and communication schemes that we could use to maximize the penetration of our turbines in the grid and enhance the reliability of the system.

Logistical complexity
Having obtained a clear idea about the situation and the approach, the combined team of our experts visited all the islands, to perform access studies. The aim is not only to find a suitable route but also to identify and select the best route with the minimum amount of changes on the existing infrastructure, (to minimize the impact on the environment and the local communities) that will transport without problems the turbines into the installation position.

At the same time, the logistics team back in the Netherlands and the factories around the globe, prepared the wind turbines for delivery, according to the project program and the operations department designed the O&M approach and expanded the team to ensure that these turbines will also have the high availabilities our other customers enjoy.

With experience in previous projects around the world, EWT has an experienced team and partners around the world that know how to deal with logistical challenges. From its home base in the Netherlands, to the narrow roads in the UK, the extreme cold weather situations in Alaska to sites of Turkey. The Greek islands will be a nice addition with their narrow streets, impossible turns, challenging harbor access etc. But nothing the team can’t solve!

Stay tuned for the next article in this series: making the installation happen!

Stylianos Marinakis

Business Development & Lead Engineer

+31 (0)33 454 05 20

Get in touch!