The future is looking promising for Greece’s energy industry as a mandated unbundling of its various energy industries has proved to be a stimulus for growth in its electricity, gas and renewable energy sectors. Heading this change is Mr. Giorgos Stathakis, Greece’s Minister of Environment, Energy, and Climate Change. His previous experience as the country’s Minister of Economy and Development offers unique insight into the feasibility of Greece’s ambitious upgrades and enhancements within the energy sector.
Stathakis highlighted Greece’s increasing potential to become an energy hub in the region, given its geo-strategic position and its tactical interconnection investments. Most noteworthy are Greece’s biggest infrastructure projects including: the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which will open up the southern gas corridor and diversify Europe’s energy supply, the natural gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), and the country’s first floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), which may turn Northern Greece into a major energy hub.
The country is expanding its borders with the Interconnection EurAsia and the EurMed, projects which will bind together Israel, Cyprus and Italy in an effort to build electricity interconnections and gas pipelines between these countries. In terms of investment, these projects range from one to six billion Euros. According to Stathakis, “these amounts are indicative of the big size of cross-border projects, as well as of the range of the effects of such cross-border investment projects in the economy.” He said that projects like these not only bolster Greece’s position as an energy center but will also lead to increased demand for suppliers and jobs across the country.
Greece’s indispensable role in these cross-border projects also highlights the importance of continued cooperation between EU countries as the region’s resources become increasingly intertwined. The shift to a more regional and international business structure is part and parcel of the country’s simultaneous liberalization of its electricity and gas markets. This has been seen in the privatization of the country’s electricity and natural gas transmission operators, ADMIE and DESFA, and the loosing of market control from Greece’s biggest power producer, PPC. “We have also opened the wholesale and retail market of natural gas in Greece, in order to allow private investors to get involved in the market,” noted Stathakis.
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International investments are pouring in also within Greece’s renewable energy market. Greece has teamed up with regional players from Italy, France and Germany to create various renewable energy facilities. Stathakis reported that Greece just signed license projects with neighboring partners for windmills and wind parks worth about 2 billion euros. The country’s renewable energy portfolio is growing faster each day, and Stathakis is confident in Greece’s ability to meet high targets. “We support the approach of the EU in setting ambitious targets regarding the penetration of RES for 2030. The ongoing discourse within the EU is about moving towards two different directions; a fairly conservative and a more ambitious direction with regard to the targets to be adopted by the EU member countries. Greece supports the ambitious approach.” Stathakis pointed out that Greece has highly active environmental policies in place compared to some others in the block. This is due to the fact that roughly 60% of the country’s land has a high degree of environmental protection.
Going forward, the Minister is hoping to increase Greece’s international endeavors in Europe, Asia, the United States and beyond. He believes that leveraging Greece’s strategic location within an increasingly enmeshed global energy sector will allow the country to thrive in resource distribution and economy. What’s more, Greece’s growing role in Europe as a leader of renewable generation and energy security will ensure that the Greek energy policy stays relevant for years to come.