Michalis Giannakis: “Our choice: Sustainability”

Interview of Responsible for Energy and Natural Resources Issues for the New Democracy party.

Considering the country’s unpleasant financial situation, is it really possible to essentially implement green development that is so widely spoken of?

The State must demystify the concept of green development which the current administration has introduced in an attempt to win over votes. If the “green development”, announced by the Prime Minister, is the easy, rapid raising of funds, then such green development will not exist. If green development is a turn towards a proliferation of government officials with investor relations to secure a photovoltaic panel installation and exploitation permit, then there will be no green development.

New Democracy has chosen a different option. Not an option based on circumstances. Not something that is “in fashion” now. We adopt the logic of sustainability, which is the official choice of Europe. The so-called sustainable development. And it is sustainable because it is based on three pillars: Competitiveness, Balance with the Natural Environment and Balance with the Social Environment. Environmental policy without Competitiveness is an extreme obsession and a return to the State. But also Competitiveness without respect to the Environment is a plunder of natural resources.

The concept of Sustainability is a modern, socially liberal approach that “marries” competitiveness and respect to the environment. On the other hand, we ought to stress that the Environment for us is not an “obstacle” to Development. It is a Development Resource, it is social Wealth, which we must respect and make the most of. From this point of view, it is obvious that given the environmental and financial crises, the implementation of sustainability is not just a way out. It is an imperative need.

What in your opinion, right now, is preventing the implementation of green development in our country?

Promotion of a distorted awareness about sustainability. As I said earlier, the State has created an image of sustainable development in society which is a bet for fund raising. Even the current administration uses green development as a means of publicity, without tackling the essential problems.

For instance, no matter how many incentives we offer for power generation using RES, if we do not invest in networks we will not be able to increase their participation in our energy mix.

On the other hand, the decisions of a counterproductive state constitute barriers for energy saving. I would like to remind you that for over a year these decisions about “Saving at home” just lie there.

At this critical stage, both for the economy and the environment, the State cannot just stand like a wall before the demands of society.
It oughts to assist and not to underestimate the good things of previews goverments.

Is the Greek institutional framework on energy and environmental issues in need of great changes or is it moving towards the right direction?

The environmental issues and the challenges, we are facing, are not issues that each country can face alone. In this, there is the need for collective action from all developed countries. And this is where the subsidiarity principle of the European Union comes into play and can fill the gap created by national institutional frameworks. And fortunately, all international initiatives on energy and the environment are transposed into Greek law within the framework of the European Union.

What the Greek State lacks is political will for the uninterrupted enforcement of the law. An example of this is the Directive 2004/35/EC on Environmental Liability issues. However, the State impedes its full enforcement. Presidential Decree 148/2009 is still essentially inactive as the mix of Ministerial Decisions required are still not ready, two whole years after the deadline for the full transposition of the Directive into Greek law.

You realize that the adoption of European actions is not an institutional framework issue it is rather an issue of essential and honest political will.

What changes would you implement right now in the RES institutional framework?

Law 3851/2010 on the acceleration of RES penetration into our energy balance has just been passed. I am not sure that the law suffices to attain the ambitious goals set by the Ministry of the Environment. I believe that besides the financial aid to producers, there is also the need for significant investments in network modernization and extension. Otherwise, no matter how many laws we pass, we will still fall behind in an area where due to the wind and solar wealth of our country, we could be leaders.

On the other hand, on a national level we must avoid the various impediments that discourage small and large investors. I would like to remind you of the delays in the adoption of the draft law, the numerous corrections in the distribution of the various RES technologies, the imminent requirement of interested investors to submit a bond, etc. These are not strong points for an administration that is really interested in creating a stable investment environment for Renewable Energy Sources.

What is the most appropriate approach to the country’s environmental issues? Should these issues be managed by managers or environmentalists?

I’m not try to evade the question by what I am about to say. I will say it the way I feel it. We cannot have an environment without the economy, just like we cannot have an economy without the environment. We need to make this combination in order to find a balance.

But we should not be mistaken. Social environmental awareness is the only safe way towards a solution to the problems. And this awareness is conveyed through education, innovation and research. In these areas, the current administration has taken no steps.

How would you comment on the Copenhagen Climate Council Summit?

It is clear that the outcomes of the Summit have been poor. And this was no surprise to anyone given the position of the Eastern world.
This, however, should neither disappoint nor discourage us from following in the new efforts initiated mainly by the European Union.

Have you taken, in your day-to-day life, steps towards the protection of the environment?

I will answer a little differently. I am not happy with the extent to which I have taken steps towards protecting the environment. I would have wanted to have done more.

As I would have also wanted to contribute even more in the small community I come from, Schimatari, which suffers from the greatest environmental crime in the country, the pollution of the Asopos River.

I will be able to tell you that I am satisfied only when I see the studies for the full control of the liquid waste from all industries in the area and a complete depollution plan being implemented.

Ioannis Glynos: “Efforts for effective RES utilisation”

Interview of Ioannis Glinos Mayor of Korthi in Andros.

Mr. Glinos, what is the stance of the Municipality of Korthi regarding the Renewable Energy Sources (RES)?

One of the major goals of the Municipality of Korthio has been and still is the use of “green” electric energy generated from renewable energy sources (RES) without the emission of carbon dioxide. In this way, the Municipality of Korthio will try, from its side, to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases aiming to contribute to the worldwide effort of attaining the goals of international binding conventions such as the Kyoto Protocol, the environmental policies of the European Union, and also the Covenant of Mayors to which the Municipality of Korthio is a party, and which envisages results beyond the EU goal in energy, 20% CO2 emission reduction by 2020. Furthermore, similar ecological obligations stems from the 2008 Sustainability Award which has been awarded to our Municipality by the Network of Sustainable Islands “DAFNI”, based on evaluation by special scientists of the National Technical University of Athens. Simultaneously, the deployment of RES will greatly benefit the Municipality both in terms of new employment positions and financial oportunities, as these kind of investments can play a decisive role for its financial autonomy. Of course, it is a prerequisite the localization of the wind generators and photovoltaics to be subjecting in to strict environmental criteria and also any environmental concerns to be major factors taken into consideration in the decision making process.

Which do you think is the best solution for the energy problem of Greece andof Andros as well from the point of view of the Local and Regional Government? 

It is certain that there are neither magical solutions nor wizards that can solve the serious problems of the country, and this of course applies equally to energy. Any solution must be based on a detailed analysis of the current situation, the use of all available resources, human and non-human, exhaustive consultation to secure the greatest possible consent of the society, and of course it requires hard work and persistence. Specifically with regard to the energy problem we have to act at different levels at the same time. Firstly and most importantly, we have to adopt an energy saving attitude by means of both rationalizing our needs and taking advantage using the state-of-the-art technology. As regards energy generation, maximum efforts must be made to make use of available resources such as the wind, the sun, precipitation, as well as modern methods such as those that exploit the energy of waves or sea currents. All these, however, will be the result of reliable studies focusing on the social benefit and respect for the environment.

In the upcoming elections you are a candidate for the whole region of Andros. How will you manage the development of wind parks, given that there are also some projects that do not respect the environment and the local communities? 

The development of wind parks in Andros, besides everything else, can generate a financial resource of vital importance for the new Municipality, which can contribute to an unprecedented financial robustness. It is true, of course, that of all proposed projects (and it must be pointed out that for the time being they are still proposals), there are some which may not meet the minimum environmental requirements, a fact which remains to be shown by the anticipated strategic environmental assessments. It must be clarified that any energy investment on the island will be based on certain inviolable principles: protection of the environment, respect for the historical and cultural heritage of the island, social consent, and benefit assurance. Regarding their localization, it should be noted that the Municipality of Korthio respecting the environment of the area under its responsibility has promptly suggested zones where RES technologies would not be installed, and such zones have been accepted by the Council of State and are included in the localization design. At island level, this will be performed by means of the implementation of the General Urban Plan which is among our top priorities.

The Municipality of Korthi is one of the few municipalities in Greece that have entered into the Covenant of Mayors of the European Union about environmental issues. How did this praiseworthy event occur?

The participation of the Municipality of Korthio in the Covenant of Mayors is the natural consequence of the Municipality’s environment friendly policy until this moment. Since September 2006, the Municipality of Korthio has been a member of the Network of Sustainable Islands of Aegean, “DAFNI”. The goal of “DAFNI” is to promote sustainability actions on its member islands and certify after their implementation. “DAFNI” also promotes international cooperation on the above issues. The Municipality of Korthio received in 2008 the “Sustainability Mark” for the sustainability actions implemented as a member. The foundation in 2008 of the “Ios Aegean Energy Office” and the participation of the Municipality of Korthio in the Covenant of Mayors is part and a result of this participation.

How will the Municipality benefit from the Covenant of Mayors and what are its objectives?

By participating in the Covenant of Mayors, the Municipality of Korthio aims to continue the process towards sustainable development by promoting energy policies alongside with European Union programs aimed to reduce CO2 emissions, energy distribution safety, to reduce dependence on the import of fossil fuel and to increase energy production from renewable energy sources. The main pillars of the energy design of the Municipality are the promotion of renewable energy sources, the improvement of energy efficiency in urban infrastructures and buildings and sustainable urban mobility. Given its obligation under the Covenant to include the entire geographical area of the Municipality in the Action Plan, this will include actions that are not limited to the public but also extend to the private sector. The main goals of the Action Plan of the Municipality of Korthio are summarized next:
- Infiltration of Renewable Energy Sources into the energy balance and mainly, exploitation of the significant wind potential of the island.
- Energy saving in infrastructures and municipal lighting by increasing the energy efficiency of the equipment.
- Energy saving in buildings by promoting energy saving actions in hotels and municipal buildings, as well as by informing the inhabitants, at residential level.

Have you taken any steps in your daily life towards protecting the environment?

It is necessary to take all steps to protect the environment because we have to leave a sustainable environment to our children and grandchildren. Through the actions we take today and not tomorrow we must teach our fellow citizens and our children the correct way to protect the environment.
Some of the actions I take in my everyday life are:
- I have replaced the light bulbs in my house with environment friendly bulbs.
- I try to move around on my bicycle as much as possible.
- I participate in the recycling programs of the Municipality.
- In my amateur agricultural activities I implement organic culture methods, namely I do not use chemicals and I use organic fertilizer (compost), etc.

*Τhis interview was taken before the election of Mr. Glynos as the Mayor of Andros.

What is Ecological Footprint?

Have you ever thought about the ecological footprint of a banana, of washing dishes or having a cup off coffee?

Do you know what the ecological footprint is?

The first academic publication on the term “ecological footprint” was made by William Rees in 1992. As a concept and method of calculation was developed by Mathis Wackernagel in his doctoral dissertation, supervised by Rees at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. The term is a measure of human demand towards the Earth’s ecosystems. It is the extent of resources required by the human species for subsistence and to absorb waste.

More specifically, the ecological footprint compares the human demand on natural resources and the capacity of the biosphere to regenerate and reproduce these resources in a similar pace. For this reason we examine the resources which are necessary for the sustenance of the human population and to absorb the waste, in the context of productive land and water areas where they are produced, taking into account the prevailing technologies. Now, the term “ecological footprint” has been expanded and is a general measure of the human way of life, which may include the driving of a car or a company activity, and nature’s capacity to meet any particular standard lifestyle.

The term carbon footprint is a part of the ecological footprint, which measures the emissions from our daily activities, which contribute to worsening the greenhouse effect.

An example of carbon footprint is:

Bananas are a climate-friendly food despite the fact that have being grown thousands of miles from where they are consumed. They are good for athletes, people with high blood pressure, and generally for those preferring a daily energy top-up. There are three main reasons that bananas have such small carbon footprints compared with the nourishment they provide:

- They are grown in natural sunlight, which means that no energy-intensive hot-housing is required.

- They are transported by boats, which emit per kilo only 1% as much CO2 as planes do.

- There is hardly any packaging, if any, because they provide their own.

Unfortunately, annual measurements have shown that the demand of the human species in natural resources is disproportionately greater than it can offer the planet earth. The resources are regenerated slower than the rate at which they are consumed. It is now necessary for everyone to be aware of his environmental footprint in order to raise awareness and understand that as a unit is an integral part of the environmental chain and substantially affects the ecosystem. The columnists, David Rudd and Martin Nowak of Harvard University, argue that if we posted the ecological footprint of each one, then, our desire to preserve our social reputation, would affect positively our environmental behaviour.

Calculate your ecological footprint!

Desertec: future is near by

“Within 6 hours deserts receive more energy from the sun than humankind consumes within a year.” Dr. Gerhard Knies, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the DESERTEC Foundation.

Over 6,5 billion people consume more natural resources and produce more pollution than the Earth can accommodate. If we do not change our behavior drastically and stop the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere, we will face disastrous consequences.

At a Glance

Desertec project aims to harness the largest source of energy on earth: desert’s solar energy.

Over 90% of the world’s population live within 3000 km of a desert and may receive clean energy from there. Desertec offers an integrated solution to global problems: climate change and water, food and energy shortage. All the necessary technologies are proven and can be applied directly or forthwith.

The Desertec Concept

The Desertec Concept was developed in 2003 by the German Club of Rome and a network of experts around the Mediterranean, called TREC (Trans- Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation). Between 2004 and 2007 the German Aerospace Center (DLR) confirmed its feasibility.

The Desertec Foundation

The Desertec Foundation was founded in 2008 by persons with vision (incl. members of TREC and His Royal Highness Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan) to coordinate the activities of the Desertec networks and to create alliances to implement Desertec concept worldwide.

The Industrial Initiative (Dii GmbH)

The founders of Desertec Foundation established in October 30, 2009 the “DIIGmbh” company based in Munich. (founding members: Desertec Foundation and 12 companies from different countries, whose aim is to implement this project in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (EUMENA). Paul Van Son is the CEO of the Dii, ex-Managing Director of Econcern (Netherlands) and Deutsche Essent (Germany), companies experienced in the development and implementation of renewable energy sources projects and energy efficiency programs.

He is also Chairman of the European Federation of  Energy Traders (EFET) and of Energy4all Foundation, which is active in Africa.

Dii’s Ambassador is Prof Klaus Topfer. He will advise the DESERTEC industrial initiative on strategic issues. His activities will focus on political and social questions.

Desertec Foundation & Dii working together

The Desertec Foundation supports Dii with its networks, know-how and standards represented by Desertec trademark. It is a link between industrial partners in the Dii and other Non Profit Organizations (N.P.O.), such as the Club of Rome and Greenpeace.

Future Plans

Up to 2012 the Dii will concentrate on the speedy implementation of the Desertec Concept in EUMENA and will start further initiatives in other regions (e.g. in the USA, India, China and Australia) to achieve its mission “Clean Power from deserts for a world of 10 billion people”. In cooperation with universities, scientific institutes and other partners, the DESERTEC Foundation will carry out studies on how the DESERTEC Concept may be applied in several different regions around the world.  

The New Law for RES

Following a long period of consultation and processing, the new law (Law 3851) concerning RES (Renewable Energy Sources) was established on June 4, 2010. “green issue” quotes the main changes set into effect.

PRINCIPAL ADJUSTMENTS OF THE NEW LAW ON RES

1. Definition of a national binding objective of RES’ 20% participation in the coverage of total energy consumption for 2020 (instead of 18% as provisioned by Directive 28/2009). Definition of a respective national target of 40%, as a minimum, for RES participation in the coverage of electric energy consumption for 2020

2. It is defined that climate protection through the forwarding of power production using RES constitutes an environmental and energy priority of utmost importance for the country. This is considered as definitive in the cases of offsetting against other environmental or social parameters

3. The simplification/rationalization of the procedure related to the issuance of a RES production licence, which resumes the character it had prior to Law 3468/06, as a primary enforceable license for the project’s objective. The production license shall now refer to the technical-financial sufficiency of the specific RES project and it is detached from the environmental licensing procedure, which follows at a later stage. The production license is issued by the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) and not by the (former) Ministry of Development, as was the case up till now. As a result, this leads to the dramatic limitation of the duration of the relevant licensing process to just two (2) months. The RES facilities which are defined as per the applicable legislation as non-disturbing or of low disturbance level activities, are exempted from the obligation to issue a production license or any other acknowledgment decision, therefore thousands of small-medium investments are now accelerated.

4. The Preliminary Environmental Assessment and Evaluation (PEAE) and Environmental Terms Approval (ETA) procedures are now merged in a uniform procedure as in other European countries. Following the issuance of a RES production license, the folder and the Environmental Effects Study (EES) are submitted by the interested party to the Authority responsible for the environmental licensing. The said authority proceeds promptly to conducting an Environmental Assessment and Evaluation (EAE). The expert opinions provisioned by the law during the environmental licensing of RES projects are strictly limited to the issues subject to the authority of each service. This is providing such expert opinions comply with the layout terms and conditions provisioned by the Special Layout Planning and Sustained Development Framework for Renewable Energy Sources, as in effect depending on the case. The deadlines defined as per the applicable provisions for the submission of the expert opinions are defined, in their totality, as exclusive. The issuance of a production license, when necessary, is a precondition for the submission by the interested party of an application to the relevant Operator for the provision of a Connection Offer. The provision of the Connection Offer which is final and binding to the Operator is performed following the issuance of the ETA decision. Following the provision of a Connection Offer and the issuance of the respective ETA, the interested party has the right: a) to apply for the issuance of a facility license, b) to apply for the signature of the Connection Agreement and the Sale Agreement (which may be signed earlier but come into effect following the provision of an installation license), c) to apply for the issuance of the licenses, protocols or other approvals required by the forests and city planning legislation, which are issued without requirement for the prior issuance of the installation license.

5. A significant part (50%) of the special RES producer fee attributed to the Regional Self-Administration Authorities is provided directly to household consumers within the municipal or communal region of such Regional Self-Administration Authorities, in which the RES project is installed. This takes place through the power bills (that is the credit to the PPC, i.e., a specific percentage of the profit against the special fee charged and then the crediting of such income by the PPC to the household consumer’s respective bills in the relevant area). The remaining percentage of the income from the said special fee is paid to the respective Regional Self-Administration Authority to be used as defined by the law.

6. The modification, improvement and completion of the Special RES Layout Framework (Joint Ministerial Decision 49828/2008), as well as of the relevant legislative framework. The main objective here is to clarify critical regulations and to provide direct and effective implementation, in order to materially contribute to the disengagement of a great number of RES projects in progress which are currently in licensing hibernation. There are four (4) main points of legislative intervention.

7. Within the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climatic Change, the establishment of an Autonomous Special Service for RES Investments Processing which follows the “one-stop shop” model. The mission of this Service, which functions at a Directorate level and is directly subordinate to the Minister of Environment, Energy and Climatic Change, is to provide information and the coordinated conduction of investors’ requests interested in materializing investments in the production of power using RES.

Yiannis Maniatis: “3,5 billion euros RES Investments”

Interview of Deputy Minister οf Environment, Energy and Climatic Changes Ministry.

What is your vision for Greece’s energy map?

It is necessary to plan our future, with regards to energy, using explicit parameters; employing social consensus, environmental sensitivity and developmental perspectives. Today, more than ever, a realistic basis for the review of energy data and perspective is necessary. This addresses the country’s secure energy supply, domestic energy production, our relations with supplying countries and compliance with our Inter-national and European commitments for the Energy-Climatic change pair.

Greece, in the framework of the planned broader energy strategy, pursues seven (7) objectives:

-Differentiation between energy sources and energy transmission channels, including the differentiation of fuel types.

-Reinforcement of energy interconnections and infrastructures.

-Deepening of the dialogue between producing and consuming states and close cooperation between European countries and international organizations related to energy issues.

-Transparency in energy market operations.

-Reduction of energy demand and consumption with the adoption of energy performance and savings measures.

-Promotion of Renewable Energy Sources and green energy systems.

-Transfer of technology in the energy domain. 

Our country’s energy deficit increases the pressure to exploit domestic energy sources and to this direction research and production constitute the basic tools for the implementation of a nationally correct energy strategy. Soon, we will be able to submit the Legislative initiative for the creation of an Authority for the Management of State Rights in the domain of hydrocarbons exploitation. We all realize the definitive effect that this will have for Greece, if the indications related to the existence of deposits prove to be real.

The recent announcement concerning the investment from Qatar is of utmost importance. It refers to a combined cycle Power Production Station, a Liquid Natural Gas (LΝG) Regasification Station, a container transshipment Station and Algae Greenhouses for the absorption of emitted carbon dioxide. This is anticipated to create approximately 1.500 new jobs, while the country’s annual current transactions balance will benefit with a minimum of 400-million Euros.

We are looking to exploit the advantages of the country’s geo-political location and establish its position as an energy node and energy transit center, in the broader South-Eastern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean region. This is an explicit strategic choice served diligently and responsibly on our part.

We are promoting the procedures for the materialization of oil and natural gas pipes. We submitted to discuss with the Ministers’ Council, the Government Bill concerning the Burgas – Alexandroupolis oil pipe, taking into consideration the opinion of the local community.

The interconnecting Turkey – Greece – Italy (ITGI) pipe and the Greek – Bulgarian Branch, (IGB), constitute the new energy channel allowing Greece to materialize the advantage offered by its unique geographical location. Through this pipe, it will be possible to transfer gas quantities from Caspian and Middle East countries to Europe, through Turkey.  

We strive, systematically and methodically, to achieve a secure, long-term energy plan ensuring the competitiveness of our national economy and the minimization of environmental effects caused by energy activities, based on social consensus supporting technological evolution and employment. The challenge is hard, but it can be won.

Which steps have been taken regarding Renewable Energy Sources (RES) issues since the beginning of your governance?

When we took over, the reality we faced was rather intimidating, with hundreds of files awaiting a Ministerial decision. From the very first moment, we proceeded with the acceleration of all Ministerial decisions related to already submit applications. We completed a long lasting consultation concerning the new RES Law passed by the Parliament. We created a new statutory framework placing Greece amongst the leading European Countries with regards to the initiatives and procedures for the importation of renewable energy sources in the energy balance. We try to ensure that the residents of every village or Municipality, in which a Wind park is installed, receive specific financial offsets by means of power supply price reductions.

In the next three-year period, we anticipate RES investments to exceed 3 billion Euros.

What exactly delayed the RES law so much, when its basic feature is claimed to be the acceleration of procedures?

For specific Statutes, it is necessary that all opinions are submitted, to find common grounds and to delimit the acceptable framework in which we must act. Public consultation was a mandatory and necessary condition. Moreover, its results clearly demonstrate how useful and beneficial this has been.

In your point of view, does the new law ensure that all authorities involved (forests authority, town planning authorities and archaeology service) will provide their opinion in due time?

I remind you that, the new Law simplifies the procedure for the issuance of a RES production license. We have reduced the time required by 80% and we have created a one-stop service which will function as per the «one-stop shop» model. Its mission is to provide information and the coordinated completion of investor requests, in order for everything to be managed by a single service. Small Renewable Energy facilities are excluded from the obligation to issue a production license and scattered RES applications related to thousands small-medium investors are being promoted. The Preliminary Environmental Assessment and Evaluation and Environmental Terms Approval procedures are uniformly merged, whilst their duration is limited to 8-10 months (from the current 3 years duration). There is the specification of the procedure related to the granting of a right to use shores, beaches or sea areas for works concerning power production using Renewable Sources.

Therefore, I believe, that those actions that will smoothly initiate the procedures have been provisioned.

A lot has been said regarding the fact that photovoltaic elements are no longer a primary objective. What is your opinion?

That’s not true. The Law that has been passed does not reduce the guaranteed price per kilowatt-hour that the producers are paid for the energy injected into the system. The old price is retained, as it was in effect and it is one of the highest prices applicable in the E.U. The benefit is even greater when one considers the high levels of sunshine of our country have.

At the same time, there is a new initiation regarding the procedure for the acceptance of new applications concerning canopies, buildings for farmers too in order of priority. You should not forget that over the last two years the procedure for the submission of applications concerning P/Vs exceeding 20 KW was postponed.

A fixed objective of the Ministry is the uninterrupted and healthy development of the photovoltaic park facilities in our country. We do not depreciate solar energy, which, along with the other alternative energy sources, wind, geothermic, hydroelectric and biomass, contribute to sustainable green development that our country needs and we envision.

What is the “green islands” priority level in your agenda?

The Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climatic Change has as its priority the materialization of the project “Green island  Ai Stratis”, which, in fact, will constitute a landmark project and its results will be used for the implementation of environment-friendly technologies on other, bigger islands. There is a provision to perform significant interventions so as to satisfy, using green technologies, the needs of the island inhabitants with regards to power, heating, cooling and transportations. Through the National Reference Strategic Plan (NSRF) there has been an assurance of funds amounting to 8 million Euros which shall be availed for:

-the materialization of RES and energy storage projects,

-interventions for energy saving and the coverage of thermal and cooling loads using Geothermic Heat Pumps in public buildings and green transportation projects (electric vehicles and hydrogen fuelled vehicles) including the respective fueling stations.

“Ai Stratis” will become the first non-interconnected island in Europe with such a high green energy integration level.

If you had the chance to change something with regards to energy issues with the touch of a magic wand, which one would you choose?

Our attitude as energy consumers. This is because I believe that we must evolve to a civilization whose principle consumption model is based upon the principles of energy saving and the reduction of the quantity of supplying sources needed for the satisfaction of human needs. I would like this magic wand to be able to change an arrogant, gluttonous, greedy, short-sighted and selfish model of both the collective and individual attitude towards the Planet Earth and the natural resources availed by it, to a new model of viable, responsible life with future perspectives.

I would really like this magic wand to remind the inhabitants of this planet on a daily basis of the wonderful image of last Christmas in Copenhagen. The city’s Christmas tree was illuminated not using lights powered by the grid, but by energy supplied by dynamos charged by the pedal strokes of a bicycle, on which each visitor provided his/her own physical and symbolic contribution.

Reforestation NOW!

Εvery summer, Greece is plagued by destructive fires, which sometimes are caused by unscrupulous opportunists and other times are a result of an unfortunate and fatal moment in time. Every summer Greece loses a considerable part of its forests, together with the life that nature unsparingly provides man.

The destructive results of forest fires may not, perhaps, be directly evident to people, particularly to people who live in the city. The truth of the matter, however, is entirely different. When a forest is destroyed, an entire natural ecosystem will be disrupted. That brings about a chain of negative consequences on everything that it is comprised of. Reforestation, therefore, is an imperative necessity.

What is reforestation? Who can take part in reforestation efforts and when are these carried out? There are two types of reforestation: natural and artificial. Natural forestation is a type of self-defense system that forests implement against fires that are caused by natural causes. Mediterranean ecosystems belong to those ecosystems that for thousands of years have been responsive to environmental conditions, managing fires and having the capacity to regenerate after fires. When a forest is able to heal its wounds by natural means, it should not be reforested by artificial means, because this will hinder the natural development of the vegetation.

In the case, however, in which a forest sustains repeated fires, more than twice within a period of five years, the natural ecosystem sustains substantial degradation and, thus, the possibility for natural reforestation is lost. This is when artificial reforestation comes into play. The competent forest services of the region that will be reforested are responsible for taking the initiative. People’s sensitization, however, always works as the driving force of this initiative. The decision for reforestation must always be taken by scientists who will be responsible for the project’s planning and supervision. The appropriate time for the implementation of reforestation projects is between the months of October, November and March, in other words the period that is characterized by heavy rainfall, so that the new trees can develop strong roots, absorb the necessary nutrients from the soil and have ample water. Particular attention must also be given to the selection of plants and trees that will be planted so that reforestation can flourish.

There are many reforestation volunteer groups in Greece, such as, for example, the “PENTELI SOS VOLUNTEER GROUP” that usually target specific regions that have been destroyed. What we have to understand, however, is that reforestation is not a procedure that lasts one day, one week or one month. Reforestation is a procedure that requires the development of sensitivity towards and a philosophy regarding the environment. Such an important work should not be treated as sensationalism that always follows a catastrophe but rather as the long-term cultivation of an environmental conscience with strong foundations.

*source: in.gr > rural tourism

Kostis Hatzidakis: “Green Unite us ALL!”

Article of Kostas Hatzidakis, member of the Greek Parliament.

A proper energy policy, especially in these difficult economic times, can be a tool to move towards a more sustainable model of development. This is especially true for Greece, a country rich in natural wealth, which can take advantage of Renewable Energy. The New Democracy government has prioritized the substantial increase of renewable energy, according to the common European goals. From 2004 to 2009 tripled the country’s installed capacity in renewable energies. The special zoning for renewables, the simplified procedures for installing photovoltaic even on rooftops and the new framework of geothermal energy were adopted.

This effort must continue. Without delay, without regression and without prevarication. Not only because according to European commitments we have aimed to cover energy needs of the country by 2020 by 18% from renewables. Because this is what our conscience commands. There is a need to implement specific measures and policies to promote investments in renewable energies and to bridge the gap that separates us from other more developed European countries while giving thereby boost to the country’s development.

The latter law recently voted in the House of Parliament, seeks to streamline the planning process for renewables. This law is largely the result of work we had already done in the Ministry of Development. And it includes many positive points. I mention the incentives given to people to install wind turbines in their area, and will pay lower tariffs in PPC. Incentives aimed to remove the prejudices which unfortunately exist in various parts of Greece to install renewables. Also important is the simplification of licensing by reducing the time required for investors. However, the government has made some small changes which need to be noted. First, the pricing of energy from renewables, which the consumers will be called, of course, to pay in the end, was not based on an integrated design that provides internal efficiencies, to link technologies, etc. It can at any time need to go to revisions. Secondly, the government changed the rules on contracts for wind farms. Whether this arrangement is in the right direction or not, the government should look very carefully any finished projects in this area, because the time is our enemy on this issue. At this difficult time we need investments in our country immediately. Finally, in the same vein, it would be, henceforth, for the government to take priority in some internal procedures (eg the Regulatory Authority of Energy) to large investment projects. Not because small projects are not good. But because if we want to reach the targets set for energy production from renewable energy, we must work on projects that have immediate results, respectively.

Apart from the “green” energy, we need to look also the energy saving policies. The government in this area has shown good intentions but without a corresponding effect. The RES law also included provisions for Energy Upgrade Project Buildings. A project of paramount importance that both consumers and the market want, particularly in the construction industry. No need to waste any time. The government must move immediately to implement and increase the program’s budget limits set by the Government Decree when first presented the program.

Energy is a challenge and yet an opportunity for tomorrow. Today more than ever, the energy sector is at the top of the agenda of all advanced nations. In Greece, in recent years we have strengthened the energy position of the country, improved its investment environment and supported entrepreneurship. But we have a long way to go. For further economic development, new jobs and better protection of the environment. We can do it. Adding up all the knowledge, logic and national interests.

*Kostas Hatzidakis is a member of the Greek Parliament. He has been a member of the European Parliament, Minister of Transport and Communications and Minister of Development.


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