DESFA, a long term, sustainable friend of the environment

Nicola Battilana, CEO of gas grid operator DESFA 

Article on the occasion of the International Environment Day

Since its foundation, gas grid operator DESFA has placed particular emphasis on environmental protection by planning and investing in the continuous improvement of its operations, taking into account the principles of sustainability and maximum preservation of natural wealth.

DESFA’s Environmental Policy is communicated to stakeholders and includes principles, regarding the sustainable use of natural resources, the prevention of pollution and the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity. The environmental performance is monitored after recognizing environmental aspects, deciding on Key Performance Indicators and determining goals, as part of a Certified Environmental Management System, according to the ISO 14001:2015 International Standard.

Pioneering in eco-strategy, DESFA was the first European Transmission System Operator, who started recording its Carbon Footprint since 2011, according to the International standards (ISO 14064). Carbon Footprint estimates the total greenhouse gas emissions caused directly or indirectly by the organization. In fact, in 2018 DESFA’s Carbon Footprint was reduced to 0,011 kg CO2/Nm3, which represents a consistent 8% reduction over the last three years.

Such sustainable outcomes are the result of DESFA’s long-term strategy, as developed in the company’s internal policies, in the Business Plan and in the Ten Year Development Plan (TYDP), which reflect its commitment to energy efficiency and to investments that increase the use of natural gas as a clean energy alternative. Being considerably cleaner than coal and other fossil fuels, the use of natural gas in power generation or heating reduces carbon dioxide and other emissions, in particular particulate matters and Sulphur dioxides, resulting in both immediate and long-term benefits for public health and the environment. Numbers are self-explanatory: when burned, natural gas emits as much as 70% less CO2 than coal (0,4tn CO2/MWhvs. 1,3 tnCO2/MWh from coal) and 20-30% less than oil, results in significantly less nitrogen oxides (NOx) and negligible emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), mercury (Hg), and Particulate Matter (PM) compared with other fuels.

DESFA’s own example as the owner and operator of an LNG gasification terminal on the island of Revithoussa better advocates the company’s commitment to the benefits resulting from the use of natural gas. This large, state-of-the-art, industrial unit constitutes an exemplary standard of energy efficiency, since it operates under the strictest environmental terms and utilizes the latest technology on energy sustainability, such as its Cogeneration Heat and Power High Efficiency (CHP–High Efficiency) unit.

Energy sustainability is an ongoing process. To that end, the company plans to further enhance energy efficiency and adoption of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel, by participating in projects and investing in upgrades of the LNG Terminal.

A major step is the participation in the POSEIDON MED II program, an EU co-financed project, aiming to make Greece the focal point for supplying and distributing liquefied natural gas in Southeast Europe as part of the company’ s Small Scale LNG projects. Finally, the use of LNG as bunkering fuel is associated with the reduction of negative environmental impact of traditional marine fuels, complying with the requirements of Annex VI of the IMO MARPOL Convention and of Directive 2012/33/EU, which foresees that as of 2020, ship operators that trade in European territorial seas and exclusive economic zones will be required to burn fuel with less than 0,5% of Sulphur content.

DESFA’s approach to QHSE issues is rigorous and covers all activities within the Company, including those of contractors and subcontractors. The applied, monitored and certified management systems cover all DESFA’s facilities and activities and include all the necessary components to ensure compliance with requirements, including the Directive 2003/87/EC of the European Parliament, establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas Emission Trading System. The facilities partaking in the ETS have achieved the Compliance Status “A”, meaning full harmonization with the relevant legislation.

DESFA is also committed to take initiatives to protect and enhance the natural environment and ecosystems, as a priority and key pillar of sustainable development. To that end, DESFA will continue to closely follow developments, European trends and international recognized methods that are expected to play a key role in innovative environmental practices.