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Greece’s Ambitious New Energy Strategy Under Minister Stathakis Will Increase Renewables & Privatise Industry

Greece is embarking on an ambitious new energy strategy. Headed by George Stathakis, Greek Minister of Environment and Energy, the country plans to significantly increase its share of renewables and privatise its national oil and gas companies, while increasing its hydrocarbon exploration.

H.E. Mr. George Stathakis is Minister of Environment and Energy in Greece since November 2016. He previously served as Minister of Economy.

Greece has an ambitious new energy strategy, under Environment and Energy Minister H.E. Mr. George Stathakis. The country plans to increase its share of renewables to 50 percent by 2030, while reducing lignite-based energy production to 20 percent – surpassing European-level goals.

“The idea for 2030 is straight forward”, said Stathakis. “We will completely remove oil and petrol from the islands. We will further reduce lignite and completely replace those two sources with renewables.”

Over the next two to three years, the aim is to attract 3 billion euros in investments in clean energy generation, which Stathakis said is a “very feasible target”, especially given that the tender process for photovoltaics and wind has already begun, gleaning positive initial results. The two major tender processes are taking place in July and September of 2018, all together auctioning around 2.6 gigawatts of solar and wind projects.

The auctions are a shift for Greece under Stathakis’s direction; previously the country used feed-in-tariffs with a guaranteed price for the development of renewable energy generation.

Additionally, under Stathakis’s leadership, Greece 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 neighbours would have less reliance on imported hydrocarbons.

Greece has worked tirelessly over the past year to revamp its energy strategy. As recently as 2017, the International Energy Agency confirmed that the country is still heavily dependant on oil imports. But a wide range of cross-border energy projects with its neighbours, coupled with recent oil and gas discoveries and a large influx of renewable generation, is turning the country from energy dependent to independent. Copyright: Georgios Tsichlis/

Specifically, Hellenic Petroleum, Exxon, and Total have been awarded the tender to explore oil and gas in and around Crete. “The potential seems to be extremely high, similar to the findings of Cyprus and Israel”, Stathakis said with a slight smile. “It’s a high risk but with high potential area”, he added with an even bigger grin.

Recent gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean – like Zohr in Egypt and Aphrodite in Cyprus – have significantly increased the likelihood that the exploration in Crete will prove successful. To get all of these new hydrocarbons to market, the EastMed Pipeline – a natural gas project that will travel from the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe – will encompass Crete, mainland Greece, Cyprus, Italy, and Israel. Energy ministers from these countries (along with assistance from the European Commission) hope to get the pipeline constructed and running at top speed by 2025. However, Greece’s potential discoveries are fundamental in the viability of the pipeline, which is dependent on the volume of discovered reserves.

Stathakis is confident that Greek exploration will be fruitful. “We intend that Greece becomes a centre within the framework of diversification of suppliers of gas”, he stated. He pointed out that that EastMed, along with Alexandroupolis FSRU, will provide access to new findings in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will bring Azeri gas, and the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) will have access to a multitude of suppliers.

At the same time, Greece is privatising a number of energy projects. “Greece will benefit obviously in its target to become a hub in the area and, at the same time, expand the gas infrastructure in Greece”, he explained. He referred in particular to the privatisation of DESFA, Greece’s national natural gas system operator. DESFA is now owned 66 percent by a consortium of Italy’s Snam, Spain’s Enagas, and Belgium’s Fluxys, while the Greek state owns the remaining 34 percent. Within 18 months, the value of DESFA rose by 30 percent, showing just how vital regional cooperation is in the Mediterranean.

There are further pending privatisations to unbundle the Public Gas Corporation of Greece (DEPA), Greece’s Public Power Corporation (PPC), and Greece’s massive oil company Hellenic Petroleum. The processes are all moving forward positively, sending a clear message of confidence in Greece’s compliance with its commitments as the country prepares to exit from its bailout programmes.

With regard to PPC, which has had a monopoly on lignite, Stathakis noted, “We have a first round indicating that there are quite significant potential investors. Now we have reached the very last stage; the tender is in the air and we wait for those that are ready to go on with their investment in this plan.”

As Greece works on hydrocarbon exploration and industry privatisation, in tandem with increased production of renewables, it should be mentioned that the country retains a high priority on environmental conservation.

“Greece has the second largest area of highly protected Natura regions [a network of nature protection areas]”, Stathakis said with honour. “28 percent of our land is Natura – by far the highest in Europe among the two or three countries that have such high Naturas. And we have Natura in the sea as well.”

Before any kind of energy exploration or production in Greece begins, there is a process of evaluation and re-evaluation of every step the activities will take, always bearing in mind the environmental element within the permanent evaluation system. This is something Stathakis seems to be very proud of.

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Editorial Staff

South EU Summit's editorial team is comprised of an international team of journalists and communication specialists with wide-ranging areas of expertise. We pride ourselves in developing firsthand content, and undertaking personal interviews with the most influential players in each market.

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