“Greece is a pioneer in the energy transition. Natural Gas, Hydrogen, LNG and Electrification make up the future” was the theme of the “Energy – Energy Transition” section in the context of the 6th Athens Investment Forum, which takes place at the Concert Hall and is co-organized by TEE and Vertical Solutions.
Nikos Tsafos, special advisor to the Prime Minister on energy issues, Konstantinos Xifaras, CEO of DEPA EMPORIAS SA, George Kouvaris, Chairman of the Board of Directors of HERON ENERGY, Ioannis Mitropoulos, General Manager of NATURAL GAS – HELLENIC ENERGY COMPANY, Alexandros Papageorge participated in the module. of directors consultant of the HELLENIC ENERGY EXCHANGE, Aristophanis Stefatos, CEO of EDEYEP, Vassilis Karamouzis, General Manager of Corporate and Investment Banking of the National Bank, moderated by the journalist Nikos Hatjinikolou. Nikos Tsafos (Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Energy Matters):
The energy transition is a huge opportunity for the country
“The energy transition is a huge opportunity for the country” emphasized Nikos Tsafos, special advisor to the prime minister on energy issues, explaining that Greece has abundant natural resources (ie sun and wind) on which the energy transition is based. N. Tsafos emphasized that Greece is already a pioneer in the energy transition, however he underlined that now the country is entering a more complex chapter and in order to reach 70-80% in the penetration of RES, it must make leaps in the management of the system. “Our goal is to become an exporting country in the energy sector, the problem is how we will manage the great interest in RES” he said while also referring to the ambitious program for offshore wind farms stressing that in the long term “energy production from the Aegean can surpass the production of the rest of the country” since there is “a huge potential that we must take advantage of”.
Konstantinos Xifaras (DEPA EMPORIAS): We do not expect a significant increase in prices
Constantinos Xifaras, CEO of DEPA EMPORIAS SA, expressed the assessment that natural gas prices are not expected to rise significantly, noting that the expected mild winter, the excess of natural gas in Europe and the reduction in consumption are keeping prices low.
Referring to the position of DEPA Emporia in the energy transition, K. Xifaras stated that the company has started the transformation process by entering the RES market, while at the same time modifying the portofolio of its natural gas suppliers with the aim of being more competitive and offering better prices to consumers. Mr. Xifaras expressed the assessment that the market in Greece will mature after 2024.
Giorgos Kouvaris (HERON ENERGY): Need for innovation
The need for the introduction of more innovative solutions in the energy market was emphasized by Giorgos Kouvaris, Chairman of the Board of Directors of IRON ENERGY SA. G. Koubaris mentioned a related example by suggesting that there should be subsidies for consumers who choose to connect to a RES project of their suppliers. In this way, those “who do not have their own roof or basement” will also be able to benefit from government subsidies, as he said, in order to take advantage of the subsidy programs for installing solar panels on the roof or installing batteries. After all, as he noted, “today 60% of Greeks live in apartments”. As Mr. Koubaris mentioned, the energy transition requires a balance in three indicators: energy security, energy justice/proportionality and the sustainability of investments, while it is necessary to have the human resources to support all of the above.
Ioannis Mitropoulos, (NATURAL GAS – HELLENIC ENERGY COMPANY): The problem of energy tourism
The phenomenon of “energy tourism” was mentioned by Ioannis Mitropoulos, General Manager of NATURAL GAS – HELLENIC ENERGY COMPANY, in response to the question of Nikos Hatzinikolaou about the debts of 1.5 billion euros burdened by natural gas providers. As I. Mitropoulos explained, the debts are not due to the increase in prices. 60% of this amount, i.e. 900 million euros, comes from overdue debts of consumers who have chosen to change providers without paying off their previous debts. “There is a gap in the regulation of overdue debts” emphasized I. Mitropoulos who noted that these are consumers who can pay their debts but choose not to do so and change provider. As he mentioned in the coming weeks, relevant legislation is expected to settle the problem. I. Mitropoulos also noted that “one of the biggest issues facing the market is the lack of trust from consumers” a phenomenon caused after the discussions on the adjustment clause .
Alexandros Papageorgiou (Hellenic Energy Exchange): We need a modern Energy Exchange
The need to modernize and upgrade the services of the Hellenic Energy Exchange was emphasized by Alexandros Papageorgiou, CEO of HELLENIC ENERGY EXCHANGE, noting that “we are living a very important moment and we have the opportunity to win a leading role in the Balkans and Europe”.
To this end, it must be enriched with new products, services and activities that will help those involved to trade more and reflect the correct energy prices. “There is a false impression that the stock market sets the prices. This is not
valid” he noted.
Aristophanes Stefatos (EDEFEP): Greece is sitting on a treasure
“Greece is sitting on a treasure” said Aristophanes Stefatos, CEO of EDEYEP referring to the national plan for offshore wind farms and added “we have the best wind in the eastern and central Mediterranean”.
He also stated that offshore wind farms will provide more general benefits to the national economy and local communities since it will be a permanent activity that should be supported by a base port, with continuous service provision and the provision of new jobs. He also mentioned the carbon dioxide storage projects, stressing that the Prinos project is one of the first in Europe and is crucial for industries, for which it is particularly difficult to reduce emissions.
Vassilis Karamouzis (National Bank): Energy will be the new euro
The transformation of energy into a trading instrument was presented by Vassilis Karamouzis, General Manager of Corporate and Investment Banking of the National Bank, who characteristically said: “Energy will be the new euro, the currency with which we will trade in the future and the banks will play an intermediary role role between producers and consumers by bringing together supply and demand”. As V. Karamouzis pointed out, 17 billion will “fall”. euros by 2030 in the RES market as foreseen by ESEK, another 12 billion euros according to the estimates of the National Bank and 3-4 billion euros for investments in natural gas projects. He also noted that “the money will come from the Recovery Fund, the banks, the capital markets and from the Greek investors. The role of banks in the energy transition is huge.”
Vasilis Kazas (GRANT THORNTON): Innovative platform for depositing investment plans
In the discussion held between Vassilis Kazas, CEO of GRANT THORNTON and the journalist Nikos Hatzinikolaou, V. Kazas presented the seven most important challenges for the Greek economy. As he said, these are fiscal stability, the increase in exports – decrease in imports, the continuation of GDP growth above 2%, the decrease in the ratio of public debt / GDP, the acceleration of reforms, the demographic problem, as well as the connection of education with the labor market.
At the same time, Mr. Kazas added that “GRANT THORNTON acts as an advisor to the Greek government for the Resilience and Recovery Fund and has launched an electronic platform for companies to submit their investment plans”. As he mentioned, investment projects amounting to 18 billion have been submitted to the platform, of which 9 billion euros have been approved and he called on the banks to speed up the approval of the remaining projects as well.
Finally, he emphasized the need for Greek businesses to take advantage of the Fund’s opportunity for the digital and green transition in order to “not find themselves out of the game” as he warned.