The government is working on upgrading the country’s legal framework for the RES sector in an effort to promote the development of major-scale projects, not just smaller wind and solar energy farms.
The need for a national RES strategy revision has been intensified by the prospect of major pandemic-induced damage to the tourism industry, the backbone of the Greek economy.
Big RES projects promise to attract foreign funds managing portfolios worth billions. An influx by such funds promises to create jobs, generate economic growth and help Greece reach its ambitious RES objectives set for 2030.
The government took an important first step yesterday by ratifying legislation to simplify the RES licensing procedure. But this is not enough. Ensuing steps in the overall procedure for RES investments also need to be simplified.
“We have begun and are working on proposals to simplify procedures for the next stages all the way to the installation permit. We are also moving forward with other issues to accelerate the RES sector’s penetration of the energy mix,” deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas recently told parliament.
Deeper penetration of renewable energy sources into the country’s energy mix is figuring as a key policy for Greece’s newly appointed environment and energy ministry.
The ministry is working to revise the National Energy and Climate Plan following recent observations by the European Commission, which described the country’s RES targets as not ambitious enough, energypress sources informed.
Officials are currently moving to assemble a work group by October so that an updated plan, detailing Greece’s post-lignite era targets, can be completed by the end of this year.
Greater RES participation in the country’s energy mix will be facilitated by a swifter withdrawal of old lignite-fired power stations operated by the power utility PPC, officials have stressed.
The energy ministry has commenced talks with the European Commission for an acceleration of the transition period entailing the closure of old power stations.
PPC’s newly appointed administration has begun conducting a cost-benefit analysis on lignite-fired power stations before deciding which units will be withdrawn.
The imminent privatization of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, expected to bring in investments leading to an upgrade of the electricity grid, will also be pivotal in accelerating the RES sector’s penetration of the energy mix, the officials added.
The network infrastructure’s current state is one of the main obstacles stopping producers from investing, they added.
Gas grid operator DESFA has presented a significantly upgraded ten-year development plan covering 2020 to 2029 for public consultation that includes investments worth 2.5 billion euros.
It highlights the heightened role planned for natural gas in Greece’s energy mix as well as a need for an upgrade of the country’s gas infrastructure.
The public consultation procedure will run until September 2, the operator informed in a statement. Results will be published following this date, it added.
A series of projects, currently in progress or at the planning stage, promise to create new prospects for the natural gas market and significantly boost this energy source’s penetration of household and industrial markets.
Projects listed in DESFA’s ten-year plan include connections with gas utility DEPA’s CNG stations in Komotini and Tripoli; Kavala Oil and Elval industry connections to the national gas grid; and development of pipelines for gas supply to the Dodecanese and North Aegean islands.
Greece will most likely reach a RES energy mix target set for 2020, but problems subduing investment activity in the renewable energy sector, bureaucracy and insufficient network investments being two key concerns, remain, the European Court of Auditors has observed in a special report focused on renewables and electricity generation.
Greece, along with Latvia and Austria, will most probably meet their 2020 target if they continue to implement measures targeting renewables at the current pace, the report noted, adding all three EU member states currently require increases of less than 2 percentage points.
Inspections were conducted in Greece, Germany, Poland and Spain for the report, titled “Wind and solar power for electricity generation: significant action needed if EU targets to be met.”
Specific national targets for the share of gross final energy consumption coming from renewables have been set, ranging from 10 percent to 49 percent.
Greece’s RES target for 2020 is 39.8 percent. Spain has a target of 39 percent, Germany is aiming for 38.6 percent and Poland’s figure is 19.1 percent.
Germany and Spain maintained high rates of progress between 2010 and 2017, while Greece is behind schedule. In 2017, the country was 7 percentage points off target, the report noted.
Despite agreeing to an even more ambitious RES energy mix target of 32 percent, compared to the European Commission’s 30 percent, by 2030 at an EU energy ministers meeting in Luxembourg three months ago, Greece’s energy minister Giorgos Stathakis has yet to specify on policies that will need to be adopted.
EU member states need to submit their plans by the end of December and concerns in Brussels are growing.
Just days ago, at a meeting between national representatives and Directorate-General for Energy officials, a number of EU member countries, including Greece, were told that they have yet to set clear plans on policies needed for the more ambitious RES target. National representatives were asked to apply greater pressure on their governments.
The Greek energy ministry’s secretary general Mihalis Veriopoulos has, for quite some time now, assembled a special committee to focus on the issue but has not followed up with a public consultation procedure with industry figures as has been expected.
Demand for natural gas demand grew by more than 20 percent in 2017, primarily driven by the electricity generation sector, which absorbed 18.6 percent more natural gas during the year to capture a 66.8 percent share of overall demand for natural gas in Greece.
The total amount of natural gas transmitted through the country’s distribution system reached 4.64 billion Nm3 in 2017, up from 3.84 billion Nm3 in 2016, a 21.06 percent increase. In energy terms, 53.57 billion kWh was distributed last year compared to 44.42 billion kWh in 2016, a 20.6 percent increase.
Small-scale industry, households and enterprises captured 19.5 percent of overall natural gas demand following a distribution increase of 10.5 percent.
Large-scale industry also experienced an impressive consumption increase of 64.9 percent, which took its share of overall natural gas demand to 13.7 percent.
Part of the overall increase has been attributed to the particularly heavy winter experienced around Greece in 2016-2017, which led to an increase in demand for natural gas-fueled electricity generation as well as natural gas through the pipelines for heating purposes.
The share of natural gas used for electricity generation increased to 31.5 percent in 2017 from 26.6 percent a year earlier. Total electricity production grew to 52.04 TWh in 2017 from 51.24 TWh in 2016, a 1.56 percent increase.
Increased natural gas consumption in the industrial sector, which became apparent during the final months of 2016, remained consistently higher throughout 2017.