Development of geothermal energy in Greece

Regulatory framework for development of geothermal energy in Greece

(Article by Dr. Maria Ioannou, Senior Associate,  and Kosmas Karanikolas, Associate, published in the Energy & Natural Resources Newsletter of the ILO on Νοv 29, 2021)

On 14 May 2021, decision ΥΠΕΝ/ΔΑΠ/42138/552 was issued by the minister of environment and energy and was published in the Official Gazette (ΟJ Β΄1960/2021). The issuance of this decision completes the national legislative framework aimed at the management and utilisation of Greece’s geothermal energy resources as it encompasses the geothermal works regulation, which further specifies the provisions of the relevant law, Law 4602/2019. This regulation:

  • incorporates provisions on the conduct of geothermal exploration and exploitation works, as well as management operations related to geothermal resources;
  • regulates the rational use of geothermal resources;
  • provides for the assurance of workers’ health and safety; and
  • outlines the safeguarding of environmental protection.

Key elements
According to the standing legislation (article 5 of Law 4602/2019), the exploration, management and utilisation of geothermal resources
is subject to prior conclusion of a relevant lease agreement, following a tendering procedure. The maximum duration of the lease
regarding exploration works is five years, with a right to unilateral extension by the lessee for two additional years. The maximum duration
of the lease for exploitation (on its own or coupled with management operations) is up to 30 years, but this period can also be extended
for up to 20 additional years, upon the unilateral decision of the lessee.

The regulation contains provisions on the exploration, management and utilisation of geothermal resources both in geothermal fields of
national as well as of local interest.
It defines “exploration works” as activities intended to detect geothermal potential and determine its characteristics, including:

  • geological exploration;
  • hydrogeological exploration;
  • geochemical exploration;
  • geophysical exploration;
  • drilling activities; and
  • any other complementary works.

On the other hand, “exploitation works” are regarded as entailing all operations, projects and production facilities (eg, well drillings,
reinjection drillings, metering systems and pipeline networks) that ensure:

  • the safe pumping of geothermal fluid;
  • energy generation and its transmission; and
  • the reinjection of the geothermal fluid into the reservoir from where it was extracted, after its exploitation.

“Management operations” encompass all processes contributing to geothermal resources’ rational and/or sustainable development and
comprehensive exploitation, as well as all processes guaranteeing:

  • an uninterrupted supply of geothermal fluid into the system;
  • smooth and continuous energy production in conjunction with high energy efficiency thereof; and
  • avoidance of environmental degradation

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