Greece’s Environment ministry on Wednesday hailed as an “unprecedented success” the results of an international tender to lease four regions eligible for research and development of geothermal energy in the country.

The tender, the first of its kind ever in Greece, covers four regions in the delta of the Nestos River, the Evros Delta, the island of Samothrace and the eastern Aegean island of Hios. The Institute for Geological and Mineral Research (IMGE), in a report, said there was evidence of rich geothermal energy sources in these sites.

“A large window to the most neglected sector of green energy, geothermal sources, opens the attraction of some of the biggest geothermic investment companies in the world, which submitted a total of 18 investment plans for the four regions included in the tender,” Environment, Energy and Climate Change Deputy Minister Yiannis Maniatis said on Wednesday.

The tender attracted a handful of companies, such as Italy’s ENEL SA, ORMAT - an Israeli-American consortium; Hellenic Geothermal Holdings Corp - of Canadian interests; and major Greek groups, such as PPC Renewables, Aegean Energy and ITA-Terna Energy. The value of submitted bids surpassed 350 million euros.

Maniatis said the geothermal sector in Greece has comparative advantages which could attract serious investments, both for the production of electricity and for the use of bio-farming, high-level tourism and supporting the regions’ income.