Investment opportunities to be discussed in Abu Dhabi, Tokyo

Deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas will be looking to discuss opportunities in Greece’s energy market during foreign trips this month, beginning with Abu Dhabi and followed by Tokyo.

The deputy minister is scheduled to attend an IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) annual conference this weekend in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

A prominent event on the global RES agenda, the IRENA conference will give the Greek official an opportunity to meet with investors as well as European and American authorities.

Meetings have already been lined up with Estonian politician Kadri Simson, the European Commissioner for Energy, as well as Francis Fanon, the US Assistant Secretary of State and head of the country’s energy portfolio.

US interest in Greek privatizations, gas exports, as well as renewable energy projects is at a high, as was made clear to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during meetings in Washington this week.

Fanon has made regular trips to Athens over the past few months for meetings with government officials as well as officials at Greek and US companies, the focus being on the Greek energy market and its investment opportunities.

The IRENA conference comes not long after a Greek government decision placing emphasis on green energy.

Following the Abu Dhabi trip, the Greek energy deputy will be in Tokyo on January 25, joined by the Deputy Minister for Economic Diplomacy Kostas Frangogiannis and the Deputy Minister for Development and Investments Yiannis Tsakiris.

The Tokyo agenda includes meetings with officials at Mitsubishi, Hitachi and the Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC). This bank, globally active with a focus on green energy investments, has shown strong interest in Greek projects.

During a visit to Athens last September, JBIC officials requested, from the Greek government, a list of projects deemed mature for financing.

Digitization projects at electricity distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, development of major-scale wind energy arms, installation of smart meters, as well as auto recharging stations are among the projects included on this list, according to sources.

JBIC’s foreign investment loans portfolio is worth 148.8 billion dollars, 17.2 percent of these projects being in Europe.




Japan’s Hitachi widens Asian interest in PPC unit sale plan

Though European interest in the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required unit sale package, until now a lignite-only offer, has remained limited to investors from the continent’s east, Asian interest is broadening, as suggested by Japanese consideration following Chinese.

Japan’s Hitachi corporate group, which has taken on constructing the utility’s Ptolemaida IV, a project budgeted at 1.4 billion euros, is also eyeing the PPC units sale, sources have informed.

It is believed the Japanese company’s buying interest is combined with an interest to upgrade ageing PPC units and construct new ones, key activities at Hitachi Power Europe. Interestingly, Japanese investors are extremely selective in their investment choices, as is highlighted by the country’s limited Greek market presence.

Meanwhile, Greek officials, including government and PPC authorities, are continuing their negotiations with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition over the units to be included in the utility’s sale package.

Certain sources are claiming that Brussels authorities have eased up on previous objections concerning the inclusion of a Meliti unit license into the sale package. DG Comp authorities have questioned whether the sale of a permit to build represents a disinvestment move. This Meliti license is now seen as an asset by DG Comp officials, sources noted.

It remains to be seen whether PPC’s Amynteo or Megalopoli lignite-fired facilities will be included in the package. Greek officials believe the Amynteo unit proposal fully satisfies the procedure’s requirements, rendering any talk of Megalopoli’s inclusion into the sale package as unnecessary. Even so, Greek officials are fully aware of the fact that Brussels, not yet convinced of the local PPC unit sale proposal, has kept Megalopoli on the negotiating table.

Brussels sees the inclusion of the Amynteo facility as a costly option as this unit is ageing and requires an 80 million-euro revamp. Of course, if performed, the facility’s lifespan would be extended to 2035.