National energy cost, at 25bn euros annually, ‘must be lowered’

Energy costs in Greece amount to 25 billion euros, annually, representing a far greater percentage of GDP compared to such costs in Germany, Vassilis Tsolakidis, president of CRES, the Center for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving, locally acronymed KAPE, told a biogas event yesterday at the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Thessaloniki.

The deep recession experienced in Greece over the past six years has led to little change in this field, Tsolakidis noted.

“Total consumption of primary energy supply in Greece may have declined during the crisis but remains at very high levels compared to other countries,” Tsolakidis remarked. “It has remained at 2.1 tons of oil equivalent (TOE) per capita when, in Germany, for instance, an energy-intensive country with elevated export activity, the figure is 3.7 TOE per capita,” the CRES chief continued. Greece’s TOE per capita figure was 2.7 TOE per capita prior to the crisis, he noted.

Tsolakidis stressed the figures clearly display the burden for Greece’s national economy, considering that roughly 45 percent of the national energy cost is comprised of taxes.

“Every Greek citizen pays [an average of] around 1,200 euros per year on taxes generated by energy consumption, when the equivalent for German citizens is 550 euros,” Tsolakidis told the event, attended by an audience of Greek and German entrepreneurs, authorities, representatives of the sector’s five biggest companies, as well as Germany’s consul general in Thessaloniki, Dr. Ingo Von Voss. “One can imagine how great an obstacle energy-related taxation is for economic growth,” he added.

The figures highlight the need to reduce energy costs in Greece, based on a stategy that will reduce energy imports, especially fuels, decrease high energy taxation rates, and replace mineral fuels with renewable energy sources (RES), Tsolakidis noted.

Despite the crisis, RES penetration over the past few years has increased the sector’s share in the country’s energy balance, the CRES chief noted. The RES sector has served as one of the most significant draws for investments, which have amounted to eight billion euros for the sector amid the crisis, Tsolakidis said. Objectives have almost been reached despite planning errors committed in Greece’s RES sector, he added.

The actualization of investments, including plans granted permits, is being “obstructed primarily by an insufficient and problematic legal framework,” the CRES chief noted.