Kafireas: the cornerstone to Greece's energy transition
Kafireas: the cornerstone to Greece's energy transition
As the lights go off on inauguration day, we look back at the making of a bold undertaking that will play a pivotal role in Greece’s planned energy transition. Come with us as we take you to the island of Evia to discover the genesis of Kafireas.
Like all great endeavors, Kafireas makes no exception in its history of courage, hurdles, glitches and insights, talent and courage. It’s one of the best examples of EGP’s way of working and a symbol of a renewed commitment for sustainable energy in Greece.
For Enel as a whole, Kafireas ultimately proved to be another winning bet as we’ve all been through a real odyssey to reach the moment when 154 MW of wind-powered energy finally entered the power grid.
Kafireas, a 10-year-long story of courage
We’ve been present in the Greek market since 2008, with a clear and solid commitment to support the country’s potential for growth and development. This is chapter one of Kafireas, at the time when we were moving our first steps in the global market of renewables and in the hardships of a severe economic downturn - that literally crippled the country as it froze investments and shattered hopes. Even when the storm hit its apex, we’ve stayed the course, abiding by one of the strongpoints of Greek mythology like Elpìs, the personification and spirit of hope. This is how we’ve kept on investing in newly built solar parks and wind farms, boosting the country’s recovery with an energy plan that fosters the energy transition process.
After eight years spent getting all necessary regulatory approvals and final acceptance, in 2017 we’ve celebrated the laying of the foundation-stone, only to hit a five-month interruption in construction. Only in January 2018 the Greek court granted us a definitive green light for the construction of the plant.
Even though construction was in full swing, the country’s political instability didn’t make life easy as the regulatory framework was quite shaky, meaning that authorization procedures were prone to sudden changes. Thankfully, only the dedication, determination, resilience and creativity of our teams to come up with a solution for whatever issue was arising.
Bureaucracy aside, another great hurdle to overcome was the technical challenge of linking Evia - an island - with the mainland in Attica. This called for Kafireas to feature 500 Km of high and medium voltage cables - 45 Km underwater and 23 Km on pylons - alongside 67 wind turbines and 2 high-voltage substations. A remotely operated submarine supported the underwater operations while aerial operations were carried out through extensive use of drones.
“Consisting of 7 wind farms, Kafireas will help the country achieve full decarbonization by 2028, generating around 480 GWh per year able to power more than 130.000 households and reducing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere by 315,000 tons per year, equal to that emitted by nearly 67,000 cars. A milestone for the energy transition of the country.”
– Antonio Cammisecra, CEO of Enel Green Power
Furthermore, some of the most high-tech construction phases required further improvement in safety protocols. A thorough and relentless work on Health&Safety delivered over 1.5 million incident-free work hours. A result we’re especially proud of.
The temple of Sustainability
Building Kafireas proved to be the ideal implementation of our Sustainable Worksite model: starting from the reduction of CO2 emissions, up to the recycling and reuse of waste and byproducts.
A temporary set-up of PV panels covered most of the energy needs of the construction site, while over 50 tons of construction materials went through a recycling process. Over 10 tons of wooden pallets were donated to the local community to reuse while over 550,000 tons of spoils were disposed respecting the most advanced environmental requirements.
Overall construction practices in Kafireas were deemed worthy of public recognition, as Enel Green Power was selected along with 21 other companies to feature in the first edition of the Greek Annual of Sustainable Performances, carried out by the Net Quality Foundation.
“The core of the overall investment is sustainability. Being sustainable means providing a specific contribution to the social and economic development of the areas where we operate. This means laying the foundations for long-term, positive relationships with local communities.”
– Aristotelis Chantavas – Head of Europe Area, EGP
Dialogue as a source of shared value
Establishing an honest and fruitful dialogue with the local community wasn’t easy. Fortunately, we’ve managed to overcome some opposition and skepticism from some group of citizens and to set up a frank and productive exchange. Together we’ve set forth on establishing projects for the creation of shared value, protecting the environment and the biodiversity of Evia island.
During the laying of the underwater power cables, our ship housed a team of biologists that closely monitored for a 5-month time span the underwater activities, making sure the ecosystem and local marine species were in no way harmed.
We’ve also contributed to a massive reforestation program spanning over 100 acres in three separate areas, including the century-old Kastanologgos chestnut grove. Furthermore, we’ve worked closely with local beekeepers and shepherds to safeguard the ecosystem and its biodiversity.
All in all, this is a testimony to our drive for going beyond the mere generation of renewable energy, because we strive each day to deliver added value to the territories where we operate by making them all temples of sustainability.