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Vatopedi Monastery and Mount Athos: Efforts for clean energy from RES

Featured Vatopedi Monastery and Mount Athos: Efforts for clean energy from RES

In the name of "green" development, the Ministry of Environment and Energy approved a fund of five million euros for energy upgrading projects of the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi using Renewable Energy Sources (RES). The project was included in the ministry's 2021-2025 sectoral development program and is scheduled for completion by June 2025.

The project

In particular, the project includes the energy upgrade of the thermal system of the Vatopedi Monastery with the aim of minimizing the emission of exhaust gases. The strengthening of the already "green" energy character of the Monastery has been designed with a focus on the production of electricity from the sun, with the installation of a photovoltaic system and parallel utilization of the biomass that is available in sufficient quantities in the local forest. All this will be combined with "intelligent" control technologies to enhance the efficiency factor of the thermal system.

But the ..."holy" enterprise doesn't stop there. The project has also included the creation of a single network, with an energy center and micro-grid for electricity transmission as well as projects to strengthen the fire safety of the buildings and the monastery's environs.

Energy consumption

In fact, the goal is, after completion of all projects, the reduction of the annual primary energy consumption of the buildings of the Vatopedi Monastery in order to reach 80,000 kilowatt hours per year, with the estimated annual reduction of greenhouse gas emissions being calculated at 300 tons of CO2 equivalent (dioxide of carbon).

The "greening" of the monastery had started since December 2019, when the monastery acquired a hybrid system with photovoltaics with a power of 462 kW (kilowatts) for the production of electricity, six lithium-ion battery arrays with a total storage capacity of 553.8 kWh (kilowatt hours) direct current, four diesel generators, transformers as well as a 20 kV two kilometer-long power transmission line, .

The goal of the 2019 project was to save 450,000 liters of diesel per year that the monastery consumed. With the addition of the new projects, the Monastery continues its effort to wean itself off the use of fossil fuels, covering, if possible, all of its energy needs from RES.

Mount Athos

At the same time, the large project of the Holy Community of Mount Athos is underway, with a budget of 15.8 million euros (including VAT) concerning the supply and installation of 21 autonomous photovoltaic plants, with a total power of 2.64 MW and energy storage systems, to cover a significant percentage of the annual consumption of the 17 monasteries there. According to the tender, the project should be completed in the spring of 2024.

However, it is noteworthy that all interventions proceed with the required attention and study in order not to alter the landscape and aesthetics of the Athos peninsula. That is why the positioning of the photovoltaic panels is done so that there is no visual contact from the monasteries.