ATHENS, June 6 (Reuters) - Greece's Public Power Corp (PPC) has launched Europe's second hybrid renewable energy park, combining wind and hydraulic power, on the Aegean island of Ikaria.
The park is part of the utility's vision to turn many of Greece's off-grid islands into renewably powered ones.
PPC, which is 51 percent-owned by the state, built Europe's first wind power park on Kythnos island in 1983.
More than three decades later, it operates only 3% of Greece's total capacity from renewables, equating to 150 megawatts, as government policies have forced it focus on coal.
However, a commitment to shut down coal-fired plants generating nearly 2 gigawatts of power in the coming years under a European policy to fight climate change and high CO2 emission costs has prompted PPC to refocus on renewables.
The 6.9 megawatt project - similar to one located on El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands - will replace part of the power now produced by an oil-fired station on Ikaria, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 13,800 tonnes a year.
It will allow Ikaria to meet 50% of its energy needs through renewable sources.
"The hybrid project in Ikaria showcases the potential for the energy transformation of off-grid islands and our commitment to protect the environment, for which PPC is willing to allocate as much resources as possible," Chief Executive Manolis Panagiotakis said at the launch of the park.
The 50-million-euro ($56.32 million) hybrid station fits in with Greece's plans to double green energy in power generation by 2030 to cut its above-EU average reliance on imported oil and on coal.
Athens aims to cut the share of coal and other fossil fuel in its power capacity by more than a third and achieve a 48% share of wind and solar by 2030, from about 26% now.
PPC has said it plans to spend about 600 million euros on solar, wind and small hydroelectric projects to quadruple its renewables capacity to 640 megawatt by 2022.
($1 = 0.8878 euros)
(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Jan Harvey)
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