Let me start by giving a brief overview of the current state of play regarding the adoption of EU Energy Rules for Greece. I will follow up with proposals on how we should accelerate the integration of those rules towards a more efficient and more competitive energy market in the region.
Regarding PPC, the toughest part would be the progression of the Disinvestment Businesses, and the efficient liberalization of the electricity market in combination with the improvement of the company’s financial situation. Those two key deliverables of the program are due in May 2018 and in the equation, we should add a progressive long, but not too long, plan of decarbonization based on the departure from lignite and the adoption of cleaner energy sources. Last but not least we must also bear in mind that another prerequisite regarding PPC is the improvement of the company’s financial situation by clearing all arrears of public sector entities by May 2018.
Towards that direction, a solid Renewables Energy Plan is of paramount importance. In that aspect, the approval of the auction mechanism for renewables on behalf of the Commission in January is a positive step but remains to be seen how this will be translated into a viable, sustainable and above all competitive framework for renewables for energy production.
In paper, the above interventions are supposed to increase by 2030 the contribution of renewables to the energy mix of Greece to 50% from 29% that it is today, whereas there will be an increase in the contribution of gas. At this point, I would like to bring to your attention that Portugal has announced that for March renewable energy accounted for 103.6 percent of mainland electricity consumption.
Regarding the gas market, the privatization of DESFA is moving forward but we the Greek government should work hard on the process to have a final agreement by June this year.
Although today’s discussion is focused on energy production, I would also like to stress that it is crucial to integrate a plan towards improving the energy efficiency of buildings, thus indirectly reducing the energy needs and further improving the country’s energy balance sheet on the demand side.
Last but not least, we must never forget that energy is always a topic with strong geopolitical and geostrategic implications and when assessing the energy developments in South East Europe we need take into consideration what is happening in the area the last couple of months.
So now that I presented that situation I will like to give some facts on what is happening in practice.
Regarding PPC the situation is dire. The numbers speak for themselves:
- PPC Arrears in 2014 were 1 billion euros, and in 2018 they are 3 billion
- PPC Value in 2014 was 2.5 billion euros, and in 2018 it is 0.6 billion
- The disinvestment plan required a share reduction from 95% to 50% by 2019, so far there has been zero benefits for the PPC.
- The privatization of four PPC Lignite Plants is not rationalized, leaving arrears and personnel, which will be allocated back to PPC whereas paying and diligent customers will be transferred to the bidders. Last but not least the company is obliged to not use in their full capacity energy plants like the Gas Plant in Megalopoli.
What could be done differently?
- Regarding PPC, my party Nea Demokratia is fully supporting the introduction of a strategic investor for PPC, which will significantly upgrade its international appeal.
- Regarding energy strategy, we must aim for progressive lignite decarbonization with a transition towards cleaner energy and renewables. The Portugal example I mentioned before shows that it is doable to go up to 100% when it comes to renewables. Last but not least, in the decarbonization and disinvestment projects in mine areas, we must provide for the support of the local economy with strong financial and social programs.
- Towards that same direction we must also keep our eyes in the energy interconnection of islands. With an annual cost of over 800 million per year for Greek citizens, it has been a great relief that a part of the interconnection, which has been funded by EU Funds was completed. Sadly, the Greek government forgot to mention EU’s contribution. The benefits from these interconnections are multifold, with cost savings for citizens, improvement of the environment and further decarbonization.
- As mentioned before, there is no energy strategy without an energy efficiency strategy.
- Therefore, we are proposing tax cuts up to 40% of the investment for energy efficiency upgrades and the expansion of the building coefficient for tourist businesses that invest in the energy upgrade of their infrastructures.
- But we must also seek out best practices from other countries as well. In Finland and France there have been EFSI and ESIF backed investments for the energy renovation of buildings, which are expected to trigger investments of more than (273+330) 600 million euros whereas in Greece the program of energy renovations is facing basic difficulties in its implementation. We must strive for more.
- Last but not least, we must integrate our long-term strategy for investments in the projects of common interest to be funded by the next round of funding of the Connecting Europe Facility. Towards that direction, I would like to mention that the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, which has been faced with a negative outlook from the current government, has been attributed a status of the project of common interest and also, it has been decided that I will be financed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments.