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Crete Explores Local Solutions for Enhancing Social Acceptance and Participation in Wind Energy Initiatives

42 local stakeholders were discussing identified challenges regarding social acceptance in wind energy projects during a successful warm-up event in Crete. During the event, several ideas to tackle lack of social acceptance and participation in wind energy was discussed. Some of the ideas were further developed into actionable processes.

As part of the WENDY stakeholder engagement actions, the project pilot partners have been conducting warm-up events for local stakeholders in the pilot areas. The event in Crete, organised by WENDY partner Minoan Energy Community, in cooperation with White Research and Q-plan International, intended to inform the participants on the current situation regarding local wind farm development and initiate important discussions. The need for encouraging and mobilising local citizens and stakeholders to actively participate in these types of projects, and to open for joint dialogue on the potential for new wind turbine installations in Crete is vital. This dialogue should include local authorities, licensing authorities, energy communities, and citizens, and it should define a final siting plan for wind turbines.

A Path to Rebuild Trust

In recent years, Crete and other Greek islands have exhibited a notable decline in public support for wind park installations. Prior to 2009, the general sentiment was either neutral or favourable. However, this changed due to a series of large-scale projects initiated by a limited group of major investors without proper community consultation. Misinformation about the effects of wind farms on the environment and local ecology further added fuel to the fire. It was e.g., believed that wind parks would impact rainfall and the welfare of animals. A first step to re-establish trust and make wind energy more acceptable in Crete is to recall all large size wind park licenses and rejecting all applications that are violating several clauses and definitions in the relevant legislation. This is something the WENDY partners will further focus on for the pilot in Crete.

Minoan Energy Community Drives Wind Park Development While Engaging Local Support and Participation

Minoan Energy Community is in the process of establishing a 12 MW wind park, where actively involving landowners and the local community in the process.The next step is to present the project to the local citizens and the municipality to invite and encourage them to take part in the project. Minoan Energy Community has set a 50 MW target of wind energy for Crete and is in the process of searching for suitable installation sites. Encouraging citizens to register in the community or establish own energy communities is part of the capacity building programme, supported by the Regional Authority of Crete. This effort also enjoys the backing of a cluster of Greek energy communities which aim to aid the development of socially oriented energy communities.