US investments in Greek RES sector rising, LNG imports up

New US investments in Greece’s RES sector are on the rise, the energy ministry has stressed following a meeting yesterday between Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and the U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, for a discussion on major energy project plans in the wider region and the related American investment activity.

U.S. companies such as ONEX, Black Summit, with support from DFC (International Development Finance Corporation), Quantum Energy Partners, National Energy, General Electric, Fortress Investment Group, Blink and Tesla are all currently pursuing investments in the Greek market.

Hatzidakis, the energy minister, expressed satisfaction over the level of foreign investments in Greece, noting U.S. participation has significantly increased, especially in the energy sector.

Last month, 547 Energy, an American renewable energy venture backed by Quantum Energy Partners, participated for a third time in a row in a RES auction staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, adding 107 MW in wind energy capacity to its Greek portfolio for a current tally of eight RES projects and 390 MW, the energy ministry noted.

National Energy is drawing American funds to develop wind and solar energy projects in Greece with a total capacity of 270 MW, the statement added.

Also, the energy ministry noted, General Electric has supplied equipment for a wind energy farm in Fokida, west of Athens, a project being partially financed by the Fortress Investment Group; Blink recently began an investment plan in the electromobility sector, for rechargers and other equipment; while Tesla, a producer, amongst other things, of electric vehicles, recently announced a plan to expand its operations into Greece.

During their meeting, Hatzidakis and Pyatt also discussed the partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, plus the U.S.

The progress of work at the Greek-Bulgarian IGB gas pipeline, whose geostrategic importance was stressed by the Greek minister, was also addressed. A closer association with Bulgarian contractors is being sought for the project’s punctual delivery.

Work on the Alexandroupoli FSRU in northeastern Greece is progressing at a satisfactory pace, the two officials agreed, noting the project will have a positive impact on geostrategic and energy matters.

The U.S. supplied nearly half of the 2,651,903 cubic meters of LNG imported into Greece in the first half of 2020, almost quadruple the amount supplied by America to Greece during the equivalent period a year earlier.

Tesla managerial job posts for Greece signal market entry plan

Job classifieds for Greece recently posted by Tesla on the company website, including for the position of a sales and delivery manager, confirm the US hi-tech giant is planning to establish a local trading network for electric vehicles.

This prospect highlights the significant electromobility growth potential Tesla sees in the Greek market.

Tesla’s preparations for a trading division in Greece represent the third step in the company’s overall plan for Greek market entry following initiatives to establish an R&D department and develop a national recharging network.

Tesla has already established a Tesla Greece R&D division, expected to employ up to 50 specialized engineers once in full gear. This division’s current workforce figure remains well below the target, raising questions in the R&D community.

Tesla, since the beginning of the year, has been involved in talks with Greek government officials as well as representatives of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for the installation of recharging units on Greek highways.

However, speculation that Tesla could be seeking to develop a recharging network that would be compatible only for its electric vehicle models has raised concerns. It should be pointed out that the Tesla plan for Greece is still in the making. Clarity will be offered once the Tesla plan for Greece is finalized.

The energy ministry has introduced an electromobility law designed to attract investment in the sector.

Electric vehicles bill to include production line incentives

A draft bill being prepared by the government to promote growth for Greece’s embryonic electric vehicle sector will not only include incentives for buyers and users but also producers, energypress has been informed.

Producers establishing production lines for electric vehicle parts, including batteries, transformers and recharging units, will be offered incentives in the form of lower tax rates and reduced social security system contributions for employees, the sources said.

However, eligibility for these incentives will be conditional and require producers to establish their production facilities in either northern Greece’s west Macedonia region or Megalopoli in the Peloponnese, both lignite-dependent local economies headed for decarbonization.

The incentives are expected to include subsidies of between 4,500 and 5,000 euros for purchases of zero or low-emission electric cars, approximately 1,000 euros for electric scooters and 800 euros for electric bicycles.

Government officials plan to submit the draft bill on electric vehicles to Parliament in June.

Besides seeking to promote industrial development in current lignite areas, the master plan will also aim to make the most of early interest expressed by foreign investors.

One of these, Tesla, has, for months now, expressed interest to the Greek government for development of a fast-recharge network at Greece’s highways, a project budgeted at 10 million euros. This project is envisioned as part of a wider plan stretching from Portugal to Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

Strong US interest can be expected in local RES market, ambassador tells

American investor interest can be expected to be strong for opportunities in Greece’s renewable energy market, the US Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, has told an American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce event, at its Thessaloniki branch, for the New Year.

Though the ambassador did not elaborate, he presumably had a number of companies in mind.

Tesla has already revealed its interest in the Greek market through a microgrid proposal for the country’s non-interconnected islands dubbed Powerpack. It is based on solar panels and large-capacity batteries. Tesla officials met with Greece’s energy minister Giorgos Stathakis early last month to discuss the issue.

Another highly-ranked US diplomat, speaking on the sidelines of the Thessaloniki event, informed that beyond Tesla, further American interest in Greece’s RES market should also be expected from a major Chicago-based company active in wind energy production and storage. An additional one or two US companies could also enter the picture, according to this diplomat.

Three major companies active in wind energy production and storage are based in Chicago. Acciona, one of the three, has operated two wind energy parks with a total installed capacity of 48.45 MW at the Panachaic mountain range in Greece’s northern Peloponnese since 2006.

Akuo Energy, a French-American venture operating 44 projects in various parts of Europe, is believed to have renewed its interest in Greece’s RES market following activity here in the past.

Invenergy, the third Chicago-based firm, has maintained an office in Athens but shown no signs of any local activity since 2007. Pyatt, the US Ambassador of Greece, recently mentioned visiting the Invenergy headquarters in Chicago last October.

Limnos favored as pilot project location for microgrid proposed by Tesla

A microgrid proposal for Greece’s non-interconnected islands presented by US energy company Tesla officials at the energy ministry yesterday appears likely to be developed on Limnos, in the northern Aegean, regarded as suitably sized and populated for this pilot project.

DEDDIE/HEDNO, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator, intends to stage an international tender in spring for the development an energy self-sufficient island. At yesterday’s meeting, energy minister Giorgos Stathakis invited Tesla to take part in the anticipated tender.

Tesla’s microgrid presentation yesterday was made with Rhodes in mind but energy ministry officials described this island as an inappropriate choice for the pilot project given its heavy summer tourism. This brought Limnos, a quieter yet sizable island, into the picture.

Limnos is Greece’s eighth largest island, measuring 476 square kilometers, while its coastline is the country’s fourth longest.

These dimensions, along with the island’s relatively lower electricity demand in the summer, make Limnos a more suitable location for the installation of a microgrid system, Greek officials noted.

Tesla’s microgrid solution, dubbed Powerpack and based on solar panels and large-capacity batteries, has already been developed on American Samoa, unincorporated US territory including five main islands in the South Pacific Ocean, as a replacement for inefficient diesel-fueled generators consuming 1,400 liters of diesel per day.

Tesla presents microgrid plan for non-interconnected islands

US energy company Tesla has presented a plan for the development of a microgrid on Greece’s non-interconnected islands at a meeting yesterday with Greek energy minister Giorgos Stathakis.

The Tesla proposal, a system dubbed Powerpack and based on solar panels and large-capacity batteries, has already been developed on American Samoa, unincorporated US territory including five main islands in the South Pacific Ocean, as a replacement for inefficient diesel-fueled generators consuming 1,400 liters of diesel per day.

Tesla’s system for American Samoa entailed installing solar panels with a 1.4-MW capacity and 60 Tesla Powerpacks for a battery energy storage capacity of 6 MWh.

Regarded as one of the world’s most advanced electricity microgrid solutions, this system ensures electricity supply for as many as three days without sunshine, while its batteries may be fully recharged in seven hours.

According to Tesla, the Powerpack system’s resulting energy cost ranges between 170 and 135 euros per MWh, which is 15 to 30 percent less than the cost of diesel-generator electricity, reaching 200 euros per MWh.

Tesla’s power-network proposal for Greece’s non-interconnected islands, growing into a major attraction for energy sector investors, is the latest following presentations by companies such as Enagas, Socar and EdF.

Plans for new Tesla base in Greece ‘making progress’

Not long after the news of a plan by US giant Tesla, specializing in electric cars, energy storage and solar panel manufacturing, to establish an R&D center in Greece, the technological firm’s co-founder and CEO Elon Musk is believed to be staging advanced talks for a Greek base.

These talks are focusing on investments by the US giant’s energy-sector arm, Tesla Energy, according to energypress sources.

The firm specializes in developing combined photovoltaic and energy accumulator storage systems for household, business and large-scale applications.

Ongoing talks between Greek government and Tesla officials have made significant progress and an agreement may not be too far away, government sources have suggested.

From early on, the Greek government has shown a willingness to facilitate Tesla’s plans for the establishment of a local subsidiary, Tesla Greece. The US firm is believed to be keen to utilize the country’s qualified human resources for further development of its business plan, while the government sees prospective political gains from local investments by the global giant.

Meanwhile, Giorgos Apostolopoulos, head of Athens Medical Group and president of the Hellenic Entrepreneurs Association (EENE), speaking at a recent conference in Delphi, central Greece, announced that he has offered Musk, the Tesla chief, free use, for ten years, of a facility owned by the medical group in Corinth.

The government took note and a meeting soon followed between Apostolopoulos and deputy education minister Kostas Fotakis, responsible for the research and innovation portfolio. The Athens Medical Group chief indicated that he wants to establish Greece on the frontline of global innovation, research and technology developments.

Tesla’s plans for the Greek market are believed to also include a plan concerning further expansion of its Tesla Supercharger Network with five electric car recharging stations in Athens, Thessaloniki, Ioannina, Lamia and Sparti.

Tesla began developing this network in 2012. The firm currently operates 1,130 such recharge stations around the world, offering a capacity for 8,496 electric cars.

 

US giant Tesla looking to establish R&D base in Greece

US giant Tesla, specializing in electric cars, energy storage and solar panel manufacturing, is examining the prospect of establishing an R&D center in Greece, energypress sources have informed.

The Silicon Valley company, one of the world’s biggest technological firms, has been engaged in talks with Greek government officials over the past few months, the sources said.

Tesla is said to be considering beginning with a modest investment. However, investment decisions have yet to be taken as the US firm is seeking to secure the best possible operating conditions before pursuing any plans. The US firm, striving for a high-yield arrangement carrying minimal risk, is expecting the Greek government to take action and shape appropriate conditions. The ball is now believed to be in the Greek government’s court.

A highly-ranked Tesla official contacted by energypress refused to make any comments on the matter.

In an interview with local newspaper Avgi tis Kyriakis, Research and Innovation Deputy Minister Costas Fotakis, who is spearheading the Greek government’s effort to lure the Elon Tusk-led US firm to Greece, noted that establishing local R&D departments of rapidly growing foreign firms stands as a key short-term objective. This suggests the government will strive to establish an agreement with Tesla.

The US Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, has often referred to the prospects of Greek-American collaboration in the R&D domain. Last summer, Fotakis, the deputy minister, was among the guests at a Fourth of July function organized by the American diplomat at his Athens residence.

Tesla’s Chief Motor Designer, Kostis Laskaris, a Greek national who gained a PhD in electrical engineering systems at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), has been employed at the Silicon Valley firm since 2012.

Greece’s R&D sector has been subdued in recent years as a result of a lack of funding and mass exodus of young scientists.