MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY
Greece 2019 I Energy I Leader
BIOGRAPHY He studied Economics at the Athens University of Economics and Business and received a PhD in Economics from Newcastle University, (UK). He was elected MP for the first time in the national elections of 2012 and sat on the Parliamentary Committee on state-owned enterprises, banks, public utility enterprises and social security agencies. he was re-elected MP representing his home region of Chania in 2015.
“INVESTMENTS IN THE ENERGY SECTOR SHOULD REACH €32 BILLION BY 2030 HELPING GREECE IN ACHIEVING ITS GOALS ON CLIMATE CHANGE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE EUROPEAN FRAMEWORK FOR 2030.”
THE GOVERNMENT HAS DECIDED TO TRANSFORM THE ENERGY SECTOR WITH A NEW PLAN WITH OBJECTIVES THAT SURPASS EUROPEAN-LEVEL GOALS. WHY GREECE HAS DECIDED TO TAKE THE LEADERSHIP IN RENEWABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT IN EUROPE?
For the first time in history, Greece now has a long-term plan for the energy sector: the National Energy and Climate Plan. It describes precisely the necessary steps towards clean energy and coal phase-out. They are ambitious, but also realistic. We set targets and priorities, we record quantitative and qualitative objectives, and we are sure that we will be in a position to deliver them by 2030.
The plan is divided into three main pillars. The first is a radical transformation of Greece’s energy mix to reach 55 percent in the share of renewables by 2030 while reducing lignite-based energy production to 20 percent. Our objective is the progressive reduction of lignite and the country’s dependency on imports, while natural gas continues to be used in electricity by providing the necessary flexibility. We should increase natural gas penetration in heating, more than doubling its use in the building sector.
The second pillar is energy savings which will total one-third of current consumption by 2030. This means renovating and replacing 10% of residential buildings with new near-zero energy consumption. at least 40,000 residential buildings are already being upgraded or replaced by new energy efficient ones. The third pillar refers to the reduction of energy poverty, by ensuring equal and unhindered access to basic goods and services for all.
The transition to a green economy will be based on institution building, such as energy exchange, market transformation and consumer support. We are expecting to attract over €3 billion within the next three years aimed at clean energy generation. This year, we have been able to develop 300 MW out of our objective of 430 MW for solar capacity. A further 300 MW is expected for next year through dedicated solar auctions for projects with a generation capacity of up to 20 MW and mixed PV and wind tenders for larger projects, that will offer up 500MW of capacity to investors. We have also proposed another mixed tender this year to provide renewable generation capacity for the island of Evia which has great wind power potential. The Government has built a subsea cable linking Evia to the mainland, which will allow the wind power generated on the island to be transmitted to Athens.
“FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY, GREECE NOW HAS A LONG-TERM PLAN FOR THE ENERGY SECTOR: THE NATIONAL ENERGY AND CLIMATE PLAN.”
IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE ITS BOLD OBJECTIVES FOR THE ENERGY SECTOR, MAJOR PROJECTS ARE BEING DEVELOPED IN THE COUNTRY. CAN YOU GIVE US AN OVERVIEW OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ONES?
We are working towards the realization of Greece´s potential to become an Energy Hub for Southeast Europe and the Balkans. We will achieve this through three main projects: the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which is expected to be completed in 2020; the FSRU (Floating Storage Regasification Unit) in Alexandroupoli, which can transform Northern Greece into a major natural gas hub; and the IGB (Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector), creating a vertical pipeline between Greece and Bulgaria, with possible extension to Serbia. There is also a central power grid and an electricity interconnection between Crete and Peloponnese which is about to begin and is expected to be completed in 2023. Investments in the energy sector should reach €32 billion by 2030 helping Greece in achieving its goals on Climate Change in accordance with the European Framework for 2030.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF THE ENERGY SECTOR IN GREECE?
Greece is becoming one of the leading countries in the development of renewable energy worldwide. In addition, we are also is moving forward with hydrocarbon exploration that could prove extremely beneficial for the Greek economy and for energy security across Southern Europe. If substantial oil and gas reserves are found around the Greek islands, this would mean Greece and its neighbors would have less reliance on imported hydrocarbons, with very important benefits to the country’s economy. The potential seems to be extremely high, similar to the findings of Cyprus and Israel.
We are doing all of this with respect to the environment. Greece has the second largest area of highly protected Natura regions [a network of nature protection areas]. Today, 28 percent of our land and sea is Natura which is by far the highest in Europe among the two or three countries that have such high Naturas.