Green energy to remain a catalyst for Greek economic growth

Local authorities, in the coming months, will focus on reigniting green energy investment interest expressed by many international funds until February, when the coronavirus outbreak began halting plans.

The restart could be a challenging task as certain funds may hold back following losses on stock exchanges.

Even so, the pandemic’s impact on green energy markets is expected to be far milder compared to other sectors.

Market analysts throughout the continent believe prospective investments in renewable energy, waste management, energy efficiency upgrades for buildings, as well as decarbonization initiatives, will serve as key factors for economic growth in Europe, including Greece.

The European Green Deal, aiming for a climate-neutral EU of zero greenhouse gases by 2050, will not be endangered by the current pandemic-induced crisis as it is a short-term condition that pales by comparison to the grander plan set out for the next 30 years, energy ministry sources told energypress.

However, a slight regression of green energy investment plans is initially anticipated, compared to positions in February.

Between 70 and 80 percent of foreign investors are expected to remain interested in Greece’s green energy sector in the months ahead, analysts believe.



RES plan official processing prioritized in 5 categories

A ministerial decision prioritizing RES investment plan processing by authorities has just been signed by deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas.

The decision prioritizes processing of RES investment plans – applications and provision of connection terms – in five categories. Priority levels are determined by EU regulations and the contribution potential of investment plans to the National Energy and Climate Plan.

Green energy investments facilitating network utilization, such as self production, are promised top-priority categorization. This also applies for investments concerning energy efficiency, waste management and biogas.

Energy community investment applications will be given a one-month advantage in the waiting line. In other words, such applications will be examined as if submitted a month earlier.

Energy community plans involving local government organizations or over 60 members are promised an even bigger time advantage of four months.

Priority processing will also be offered to investment plans in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, whose lignite-dependent local economy must be restructured as a result of the government’s decarbonization effort.

Energy savings a key factor for new NECP’s ambitious objectives

Energy savings, or, more specifically, a reduction of the environmental footprint of buildings and vehicles, will be a key factor in the government’s ambitious objectives included in the new National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP).

The plan, to be presented to market officials today at a Bank of Greece event, reduces a 2030 energy consumption reduction target set in 2007 by 38.5 percent.

The country’s previous Syriza-led administration had initially set a reduction target of 27 percent before revising this figure to a more aggressive – yet non-binding – 30 percent and finally accepting a European Commission decision last year for 32.5 percent. This was the target officially adopted for the previous NECP by former energy minister Giorgos Stathakis.

Seen, at the time, as highly ambitious for the standards of a country such as Greece, the NECP’s energy consumption reduction target has now been pushed even higher, by six percentage points.

Approximately 600,000 buildings will need to be made more energy efficient by 2030 if the target is to be achieved. Also, at least 82,000 new electric cars must enter the country’s fleet by 2030, from a mere 315 last year. Generous incentives will need to be offered if these numbers are to be reached.


Greater public-private sector partnerships for energy efficiency

Public-Private Sector Partnerships for energy efficiency investments are soon expected to gain impetus as officials throughout Europe, including Greece, have realized emission reduction targets cannot be achieved without energy consumption reductions at privately owned buildings.

The European Mortgage Bank, joined by 45 banks, has designed home loan products that place far greater emphasis on environmental aspects.

In designing these loan products, the banks anticipate reduced energy consumption will increase disposable income and, as a result, offer greater security for the servicing of these loans while also increasing the value of properties. Greek banks are also involved in the overall effort.

The initiative also promises to offer support for energy efficiency upgrades of public buildings as related work conducted through Public-Private Sector Partnerships will not add to municipal debts or deficits, a concern that has deterred the borrowing ability of municipalities in the past.

According to European Commission data, existing energy efficiency upgrade needs at buildings around Europe are estimated at 170 billion euros annually until 2030, if emission reduction targets are to be met.


New energy saving subsidy program for aggregators

The energy ministry is working on a new energy efficiency subsidy program for homes and businesses to be offered alongside a new round of the ‘Saving At Home’ program, scheduled to be launched in June.

Unlike the ‘Saving At Home’ subsidy program, the new energy efficiency program will be based on a competitive procedure whose aim will be to maximize energy cost savings per euro in subsidized support, energypress sources informed.

Aggregators – major-scale construction firms or enterprises specializing in energy efficiency technologies – will be able to participate in descending-price auctions. The winning bidder will then reach out to households and businesses and take on the task of maximizing energy cost savings for eligible parties through a range of options.

A total of 36 million euros is available for the prospective program. A fraction of this amount is planned to be offered within 2019 for a pilot program intended to spot and correct any problems ahead of a full-scale launch.

The overall effort remains at a preliminary stage. One of a variety of competitive procedures that have already been implemented in other parts of Europe will be picked after these are fully surveyed.

National Energy and Climate Plan until 2030 set for Brussels delivery

Greece’s National Energy and Climate Plan until 2030 could be submitted to the European Commission today, or, if not, will definitely be delivered to Brussels by the end of the month for approval, energy ministry sources have informed.

The plan, which presents investment plans exceeding 30 billion euros and envisioned for development over the next decade, embodies the country’s international commitments aimed at tackling climate change. It serves as road map for Greece’s green-energy future.

Greece’s National Energy and Climate Plan is based on three main components. It sets an energy savings objective that is expected to improve at an annual rate of 1.5 percent. Approximately 50,000 houses will need to be environmentally upgraded each year if such a rate is to be achieved, according to the plan.

The plan also envisions an increased RES energy role to 32 percent of total consumption and between 55 and 57 percent of electricity production, as well as an objective to restrict lignite for electricity generation to 17 percent. RES investments of 8.5 billion euros for electricity production are envisioned in the National Energy and Climate Plan.

The plan’s third main component focuses on combating energy poverty as a means of making energy accessible for all. Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis has described this objective as a top priority for the government.

IEA conducting in-depth review of Greek energy sector

A two-day International Energy Agency (IEA) meeting, aiming to conduct an in-depth review (IDR) of the Greek energy sector’s current conditions, begins in Paris today.

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis and the IEA’s executive director Fatih Birol had discussed the details included on this two-day meeting’s agenda in Greece last February.

The energy sectors of countries are subject to in-depth reviews by the IEA every five years.

The Greek delegation taking part in the Paris meeting is headed by the energy ministry’s secretary general Mihalis Veriopoulos. Other energy ministry officials have joined him.

As part of its in-depth review, the IEA is examining Greece’s energy sector policies, including the country’s effort to minimize the sector’s environmental impact. Subsequently, the agency is focusing on the renewable energy sector and energy efficiency policies as part of its Greek review.

Last February, while in Greece, Birol, the IEA chief, had declared that the agency is prepared to continue contributing to the reshaping of Greece’s energy sector. Birol expressed a willingness to provide his own experience and utilize practices that have been applied successfully in other countries.

Stathakis, Greece’s energy minister, and Birol will have an opportunity to further discuss matters concerning the country’s energy sector at an IEA ministerial meeting scheduled for November.

New Brussels-required energy strategy committee imminent

A special committee to be charged with preparing a new national strategic energy plan required by the European Commission is expected to be established within February through a ministerial council decision.

This committee is needed as a result of the European Commission’s recently presented “winter package”, requiring all EU member states to prepare national energy and climate strategies within 2017. Targets looking ahead to 2030 are expected.

According to energypress, the procedure for the establishment of the Greek committee has been prepared.

The committee’s national energy and climate strategy will need to take into account new conditions and needs, offer solutions to the country’s energy portfolio and determine investment and infrastructure development needs, all within an EU context.

The strategy will also need to provide guidelines for further renewable energy sector growth; a balanced energy production technology mix; energy efficiency improvement; increased conventional energy source diversification through development of natural gas pipelines as well as natural gas and oil storage facilities; and development of interconnections and digital networks.

New market systems, including secondary markets, for both the natural gas and oil sectors will also be included in the national strategy.

Ministry to focus efforts on elusive energy savings target

Energy savings targets set for EU member states by 2020, through the use of more efficient systems, are proving difficult to achieve, judging by the lack of progress in this domain around Europe, including Greece.

On the contrary, renewable energy production targets are expected to be reached by most EU member states and, in some cases, even exceeded.

Greece’s energy ministry believes national RES production targets will be met. New wind energy park investments are expected to play a key role in this achievement.

However, energy ministry officials yesterday admitted being concerned by the lack of progress in the national energy savings effort. The recently appointed energy minister Giorgos Stathakis, as part of the government’s cabinet reshuffle, intends to place greater emphasis in this department.

The country’s targets are the key item on the agenda of a meeting scheduled for January 19 between Stathakis and the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Change Miguel Arias Canete.

The country’s transition towards the new energy model, regional pipeline developments, as well as Greece’s energy collaboration with Cyprus and Israel will also be discussed at the forthcoming meeting.

‘Energy offers major potential for Greek-German cooperation’

Further Greek-German cooperation in the energy sector, with emphasis on the renewable energy (RES) sector, was the main topic of discussion during a meeting in Athens yesterday between Greece’s Energy Minister Panos Skourletis and German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, also Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy.

During a joint press conference, Gabriel announced that two agreements had been reached, one to promote cooperation between the two countries in the energy sector, as well as sustainable growth in this domain, and the other to offer support to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Greece possesses considerable potential in the RES sector, a field in which Germany has accumulated major know-how over the past twenty years, Gabriel noted.

The visiting official stressed that numerous German companies are interested in investing in Greece.

Following the press conference, Gabriel and Skourletis, accompanied by top-ranked local associates, met with roughly forty German company representatives. Prospective energy-sector investments were discussed and ideas exchanged.

“As you know, the energy sector can serve as a springboard for new growth and certainly constitutes, I would say, a field of a strong cooperation between Germany and Greece, as was highlighted by today’s meeting with Mr. Gabriel,” Skourletis told journalists.

Skourletis also said RES and energy efficiency prospects would be discussed at an energy conference in Athens, scheduled for today. The conference is being co-organized by the Energy Ministry, the Economy, Development and Tourism Ministry, and the German Economic Affairs and Energy Ministry.



New solutions for intelligent energy and cities at Sofia event in April

Leading manufacturers and importers from twelve countries will participate in the annual “Energy Efficiency & Renewables, Smart Cities” exhibition and conference for South-East Europe to be held from April 5 to 7 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The majority of companies taking part in the event, organized by Via Expo, will launch new products and seek new business partnerships with partners from Bulgaria, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom) and other countries in the wider region.

Components for passive houses, ventilation systems with heat recovery, vacuum insulation panels and air tightness systems will be presented for the first time in the Bulgarian market, in response to the growing need for energy efficiency.

Innovative roof and wall systems featuring excellent heat insulation and easy installation will be among the product highlights at the event.

Reflecting the progress being made in the renewable energy sector, participants will present energy storage devices, first-class solar panels for building integration, and hybrid autonomous energy systems.

The bioenergy field will once again be under the spotlight. Enterprises from Austria, Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands will be promoting combustion systems for wood, straw and other biomass material for steam/heat and co-generation, as well as systems for drying and granulating wood and agricultural waste.

Though geothermal energy has great potential in southeast Europe, this energy-generating method is not well utilized. One event participant will showcase a new generation of heat pumps that can reduce energy bills by up 80 percent. The systems feature unique user-friendly display panels.

Electric vehicles, IP charging networks, and stations will also be exhibited, Via Expo has announced.

Visitors will get to see the latest developments in building automation. A smart home system with integrated temperature, light, humidity and air purity sensors will definitely be an attraction at the event.

A Bulgarian company will promote intelligent systems for electricity, water, gas and street lighting, all of which promise improved resource management.

District heating, geothermal energy, bio waste conversion methods, energy efficiency for buildings, and a range of other topics will be discussed. Attendees will also have the opportunity to forward questions to speakers from Eurohet & Power, the International Geothermal Association, Covenant of Mayors, International Biogas Association, and Innovation Norway, among others.

Sefcovic promises EU funds for energy efficiency programs

Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission vice president responsible for Energy Union, who was in Athens yesterday as part of a tour of European capitals to check on energy union progress of EU member states, promised local authorities the utilization of EU structural and investment funds to help Greece develop energy efficiency projects.

According to sources, Sefcovic elaborated on the positive impact such projects would have on the country’s effort to reach EU energy efficiency targets, adding that consumers also stand to benefit through reduced electricity and gas bills.

The funds discussed by Sefcovic could finance projects such as the already activated “Saving at Home” program subsidizing household energy efficiency upgrades, while new funds could also be created to support the development of ESCOs (Energy Service Companies), which specialize in energy efficiency projects and are paid according to the level of success of projects taken on.

Though legal framework permitting ESCOs to operate in Greece exists, financing issues, including the high cost of money and bank loan restrictions, has kept a lid on their emergence.

Commenting on Greece’s energy union progress, Sefcovic noted that “plenty has been accomplished but much more still needs to be done.” He encouraged the Greek government to continue making ambitious revisions.

On this visit, Sefcovic held a series of meetings with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, energy minister Panos Skourletis, and other local energy officials.


Brussels drops energy efficiency case against Greece

The European Commission has dropped a legal case against Greece that had been filed at a European court as a result of the country’s delay in complying with an older EU energy efficiency directive, the energy ministry announced today.

The directive had been issued in 2012 and needed to be adopted as national law by June 5, 2014. Despite the launch of public consultation procedures as preliminary action in the legislative process, the matter remained pending midway through 2015, prompting the European Commission to file a lawsuit against Greece. The EU executive body also threatened to impose a fine of 29,145.60 euros per day until Greece complied.

As stressed by Greece’s current environment and energy ministry, it took action shortly after the Syriza-led coalition was re-elected last September, which led to the needed legislation covering the energy efficiency directive last November.

Energy efficiency, renewables, smart cities the focus at Sofia event

Regional sustainable development will be the focus at EE & RE (energy efficiency & renewables) and Smart Cities, an event organized by Via Expo for April 5 to 7 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The exhibition’s main objective will be to help interested parties find distributors and launch new products. Companies from ten countries plan to exhibit products, including Ambitermo, Martin, Polytechnik Schmack Biogas, Costruzioni Nazzareno S.r.l., HERZ Energietechnik, Eltrak Bulgaria, Metecno, and Vilmat. Italian and Austrian collective national efforts will also be represented at the event.

The event is being staged based on the potential seen in southeast Europe, a region where a number of technologies can be implemented in order to improve local economy competitiveness through resource efficiency enhancement.

Participants will exhibit equipment such as biogas plants; turn-key biomass combustion plants for combined heat and power generation; wood pellet production equipment; waste-to-energy systems; photovoltaics; small wind turbines and inverters; geothermal heat pumps; cogeneration technologies; insolation panels; smart systems for home, office and hotel facilities; energy efficient lighting, smart systems for home, office and hotel facilities; and energy efficient lighting. Also, a hybrid technology product for storing energy from photovoltaic and wind power stations to stabilize power supply will premiere at the Bulgarian event.

A strong international presence of speakers and practice-oriented topics promises great knowledge exchange at the event’s two conferences – EE & RE, on April 5 and Smart Cities on April 6.

The “Euroheat & Power” session will be devoted to the latest developments in district heating. Dr. Juliet Newson, President of the International Geothermal Association, will present the New Zealand experience in direct use of geothermal heat. Oliver Loebel from PU Europe will provide current insights into trends in passive houses. Dr. Christine Lemaitre, CEO of the German Sustainable Building Council, will provide answers on the question of how to make sustainability measurable.

Attendees involved in intelligent urban issues will be addressed on new plans for Bulgaria’s municipalities, an issue to be presented by Kristina Dely from the Covenant of Mayors. Nuria de Lama from the Big Data Value Association will highlight the future internet applications for cities, transport and logistics. The “Innovation Norway” session will present green innovation opportunities and promote successful solutions.

A number of projects in Bulgaria are underway, according to the Bulgarian Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications, a development that offers great potential for the implementation of smart city concepts.

Representatives of the Bulgarian municipalities of Sofia and Burgas will present realized smart cities projects at the event.

Dr. Ralph Gambetta from the Calypso Networks Association will speak about how to create intelligent transport systems. ‘We expect an overall strong development of the IT sector in SE Europe,” he said. “The combination of the rapid adoption of foreign technologies and many local champions that provide IT systems contributes to the progress in this part of Europe,” he added.

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Energy efficiency plan aided by emission rights auction money

A 40 percent proportion of funds to be raised at carbon emission rights auctions will be used to finance the implementation of energy efficiency policies demanded by an EU directive, according to an energy ministry plan.

As for the larger 60 percent share to be raised at the carbon rights auctions, the energy ministry has informed RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, of its plan to legislate injecting this amount into the renewable enery sources (RES) special account.

In doing so, the energy ministry plans to avoid increasing a RES sector-supporting ETMEAR surcharge imposed on electricity bills and decrease it instead.

The energy efficiency plan demanded by the EU directive, to be supported by the 40 percent share of carbon emission rights auction revenues, has already been legislated and must be implemented.

A new agency will be established for the energy efficiency initiative as the majority of funds injected into the country’s green account end up being redirected to the state to help service national debt payments.

The EU energy efficiency directive includes demands such as upgrading three percent of public buildings per year to eco-friendly standards. Public buildings that do not meet environmental standards set in 2013 are all subject to the directive’s demands.