EDF EN Hellas head denies disinvestment rumors

EDF EN Hellas, the Greek subsidiary firm of French giant EDF Energy, is not only maintaining its market presence in Greece but continuing to bolster its local portfolio by investing amid the crisis, the subsidiary’s head official, Loukas Lazarakis, told energypress in an interview.

Despite being granted approval for a major hybrid energy project in Crete, rumors have emerged about EDF EN disinvesting in Greece and selling projects. Lazarakis strongly denied these claims.

“EDF EN does not intend to abandon the Greek market. On the contrary, Greece is a country with a high-level wind energy dynamic and, at present, we are developing a 45 MW-capacity project in Lakonia [southeast Peloponnese] to be electrified in 2015,” Lazarakis told energypress. “From 2009 onwards, EDF EN has developed wind-energy parks with a capacity total of 100 MW, without any bank loans. Right now, we are finalizing two bond loans…The fact that we are once again able to raise capital from the domestic banking market is a further incentive for us to remain in the Greek market.”

The local subsidiary firm’s head noted that, in 2009, EDF EN opted to focus its local activities on wind energy, which, according to the official, accounts for over 85 percent of the company’s installed capacity in Greece, currently at 340.5 MW.

“EDF EN Hellas is not selling any wind-energy parks. This does not mean that we will not sell a project that may not fulfill our investment criteria or geostrategic objectives,” Lazarakis remarked. “This does not, in any way, signify market withdrawal. We had predicted the investment risk entailed in Greece’s photovoltaic sector in 2011 and withdrew from this sector.”

Asked to comment about the company’s prospective hybrid energy project in Crete, Lazarakis described it as a “major and complex project.” The subsidiary head noted that the project had been granted environmental approval, while adding that completion of required legislation and a regulatory framework was not too far off.

“But we still have a long way to go before this project may be characterized as fully licensed, bankable, and appropriate for us to proceed with an investment decision,” Lazarakis explained.

Besides the developing Lakonia project, the company chief noted that EDF EN Hellas was currently developing wind-park facilities whose total capacity exceeds 200 MW. He said the company planned to introduce innovative investment practices involving “financial tools that, until now, have not existed in the Greek market. Our knowhow and international experience in 17 countries are among the factors that make EDF EN Hellas a leader in the sector.”

Responding to a question on the possible emergence of political instability in Greece, and whether the company viewed the prospect as a problem, Lazarakis remarked that the “country and state have continuity, as well as a sufficient legal framework” which led the company to believe “Greece’s renewable energy sources (RES) market will continue to remain attractive.”