The plans for the installation of industrial RES on the North Aegean islands were first presented in 2006. At that time there was an intense reaction by the local communities and the planed project was never realized. But in March 2012 the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change (YPEKA) set in public consultation the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the creation of wind farms in Chios, along with relevant projects in two more neighboring islands of the North Aegean (Lesvos and Limnos).
On Chios island, electricity is provided by an autonomous thermoelectric power plant, as well as 15 small wind farms generating 11.40 MW in total. During the last decade, several small photovoltaic parks were built on agricultural land, as well as on roofs. The island is not interconnected to the continental Greece, as is the case for all the North Aegean islands. The investment consisted of building up industrial Renewable Energy Sources projects in the central and Northern part of Chios Island (6 wind farms with 65 windmills in Aipos Mountain and one wind farm with 10 windmills in Amani Mountain) for generating 706 MW. The technology of the windmills is outdated.
The investment project named “Aigaia Zefxi: Development of wind farms on the islands of Limnos, Chios and Lesvos, with parallel interconnection with the grid” was planned by a partnership between the Spanish multinational Iberdrola and the Greek company Rokas Aioliki North Aegean AVEE (a subsidiary of Rokas Constructions SA).
Once the YPEKA proceeded with setting the EIA in a public consultation, the reaction of the civil society was immediate: an organization named Chios’ Citizens and Windmills was set up. Τhey initiated a public awareness campaign, in parallel with documentation on the investment, the impacts and the benefits for the local societies, indicating unclear points in the EIA and at the same time presenting a different development approach for the island of Chios, focusing on the energy issue as well. They also set up a network for coordination, exchange of information and knowledge, and political lobbying among the North Aegean Islands, as all the islands belong to the same Regional Authority that would have approved the EIA. The movement asked for cancellation of the announced consultation, better information on the project with the provision of all real data by the company and the Ministry and examination of alternatives . Concerning the EIA’s deficiencies, there is a report by Ombudsman on the completeness of the Assessment .
The main argument by the partnership’s side for choosing the North Aegean islands for the investment was that the other Greek islands (and namely Cyclades) have an important cultural and environmental value . This allegation exasperated the residents of Chios, as the area where the wind farms will be located comprises important cultural and environmental sites. Four of the planned 6 wind farms are located in areas that are proposed for inclusion in the European Landscape Convention, and they are also protected under the Habitats Directive 92/43 as they are included in the NATURA 2000 Network.
Furthermore, important archaeological sites are close to the proposed wind farms’ locations, as well as 9 caves are in the wind farms area . The wider area is also important for bird populations, migratory included, and concrete objections were expressed by environmental NGOs and scientists on the EIA’s deficiencies as well as on the impacts on bird populations during the construction and the operation phase of the wind farms [5, 6]. Furthermore, the electricity generated by the wind farms won’t lead to a reduction of that generated by Chios’ thermoelectric power station, but will be transferred to continental Greece, through underwater cables that will interconnect Chios with Lesvos island and Lesvos with continental Greece. The total cost of the interconnection cable (the three islands to continental Greece) is around 0.8 million euros, although any estimation is uncertain. In addition to this, it is unclear as to who will pay for it. Chios’ Citizens and Windmills argues that the funds for it will be public (EU funding). In addition to this, there are considerable technical difficulties as the depths are more than 600 m. in some cases and the seabed has intense relief.
Today, the EIA has been approved by the Regional Authority for the North Aegean. The approval for the installation is stuck at the Central Archaeological Council, because the local Archaeological Councils (including that of Chios) have given a negative opinion. The main points of the movement against the Industrial RES are that the project will destroy a large area of environmental, social and economic importance for the Island of Chios and it won’t have any positive direct impacts to the local population or changes in the energy production locally. In contrast, a multinational will have great profits.
This is the main conclusion of WWF Hellas’ report commenting on YPEKA’s Report on drafting the support mechanism of RES, noting that it takes into account only the investors’ aims  Also, the project will reproduce the industrial mode of energy production, which is based on long distance transmission of energy rather than locally produced decentralized production.