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Athens welcomes Sino-Greek cooperation in green transition

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Greece has made significant progress in recent years on shifting to a greener energy model, and supporting investments in renewable energy sources (RES), the country warmly welcomes the expansion of Sino-Greek cooperation in this field, Alexandra Sdoukou, secretary general for energy and mineral resources at the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy, told Xinhua in a recent interview here..

Last September, Greece broke both a national and a European record. On Sept. 14, 2020, RES (wind, photovoltaic) covered for 51 percent of the country’s energy needs (57 percent including hydroelectric power), according to the Independent Power Transmission Operator S.A. (IPTO or ADMIE in Greek).

On the same day, wind power covered 40 percent of Greece’s energy use, the highest percentage in Europe, according to WindEurope, an association that advocates wind energy policies for Europe on behalf of more than 400 member companies.

Greece is moving forward at a fast pace and is ahead of many larger European countries in terms of RES penetration in the energy mix, Sdoukou said. The share of RES in the country’s final energy consumption was 20 percent in 2020, higher than the initial national target of 18 percent and aligned with the European Union (EU) target for 2020 of 20 percent.

AT THE FOREFRONT IN EUROPE

“Greece is at the forefront among countries that face with determination the issues of climate change and promotion of RES,” she said. “Overall, we have a strategic goal as a country for an energy model that is greener, cleaner, more efficient but also more competitive, which we want to implement through comprehensive energy policies based on the support of RES investments.”

Greece’s National Energy and the Climate Plan which was revised a few months ago, provides for installed electricity generation capacity from wind power to rise from 3.6 GW in 2020 to 5.2 GW in 2025 and seven GW by 2030. Installed photovoltaic capacity is projected to rise from 3 GW in 2020 to 7.7 GW by 2030.

Greece’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction, energy saving and RES penetration targets are more ambitious than those of the EU as a whole, proving the country’s determination to move away from traditional energy sources sooner, the official explained.

Greece aims to phase out the use of lignite in power generation by 2028 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2030, she said, outlining the national goals.

Greece also wants one in three new cars sold in the country to be an electric vehicle by 2030 and the RES share in gross final energy consumption to be higher than 35 percent by 2030, while the EU goal currently is 32 percent. Likewise, the country aims to improve energy efficiency to 38 percent by the same year, while the EU target is 32.5 percent.

The transition to a greener energy model under Greece’s national plan is estimated to require 44 billion euros (53 billion United States dollars) worth of investment by 2030, with nine billion euros allocated to the further development of RES, Sdoukou told Xinhua. Greek officials would like to see the first investments in offshore wind farms in 2025.

PANDEMIC FUELS DETERMINATION

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic not only has not slowed down their plans, but fueled the country’s determination to utilize all available European funds and attract private investment in the green economy to cope with the new challenges and pave the way to economic recovery, according to Sdoukou.

“We believe that the policy of our country for ending the use of lignite and the gradual abolition of the use of fossil fuels in combination with RES technologies is by itself enough to give a boost to development, but also to certainly compensate the losses from the ten-year crisis that our country has gone through, as well as the consequences of the COVID pandemic,” she said.

“Our ambition is to combine the recovery from the recession with the green economy and significant investments in the energy sector,” she said.

When the novel coronavirus pandemic broke out, Greece had just returned to growth after an acute debt crisis which brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy. In 2020, Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by about 10 percent, with the government expecting a strong rebound in 2021, according to the Greek Finance Ministry.

Domestic and foreign interest in RES is high as investments in this sector are profitable in many countries. In Greece, the state offers a stable regulatory framework and simplified licensing procedures, Sdoukou said.

TANGIBLE BUSINESS PARTNERSHIPS

In this drive to scale up renewable energy model, Greece welcomes technological solutions, know-how and capital from China, she noted.

“We always look with admiration and attention at the technological developments in this great Asian country. Moreover, China has undoubtedly become an innovation champion in green energy and of course this knowledge and experience are now transferred to Greece. We now have tangible business partnerships between the two countries,” Sdoukou told Xinhua.

In the energy sector, of particular note is the participation of the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), one of the global leaders in energy systems, as a strategic investor and shareholder in the IPTO, with the Greek state holding a majority stake in the company, she noted. This very successful and mutually beneficial partnership is a great opportunity for IPTO to share expertise and technical advances with the SGCC, she said.

In 2017, the Shenhua Group Corp. Ltd, one of the largest energy producers from conventional sources but also from renewablesin China, and the Capelouzos Group, one of the largest infrastructure investors in Greece, signed a three-billion-euro agreement on development cooperation in the green energy sector and on the environmental upgrading of energy generating units in Greece and other countries.

“I believe that the road is open for many similar investments by Chinese companies in energy. We, in the Greek government, want to expand this cooperation of our countries in RES, but also in many other sustainable development projects,” Sdoukou said. (1 euro = 1.2 United States dollars)

(XINHUA)

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