Europe responds to the energy crisis by boosting green transition

Nikos Mantzaris participated in a TV panel discussion on the on-going energy crisis and the solutions considered to address it. The discussion was hosted by Matroni Dikaiarchou in the show “Karta Melous” on the Hellenic Parliament TV.

The discussion covered different aspects of this topic, from the European policy and REPowerEU and the objectives of the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), to energy communities, the transition of the lignite regions of Greece, the role of energy savings and the proper siting of renewables, among other.

Europe raises climate ambition

Starting from the consequences of the war in Ukraine, Nikos Mantzaris pointed out that the recent announcement on the REPowerEU plan is the loudest response to the voices advocating for a return to the so-called “safe” energy sources, namely lignite and hard coal, as well as the extraction of hydrocarbons or the exploitation of other sources of fossil gas.

REPowerEU has set more ambitious targets (RES from 40% to 45% and energy savings from 9% to 13% in 2030), while a vast share of resources will be allocated to small and large-scale renewables, energy savings and energy efficiency, development of energy storage networks and infrastructure, and a rapid increase in biomethane and green hydrogen production. Minimal resources will be allocated to LNG infrastructure in order to have diversified sources and gain independence from Russian fossil gas.

Noting that the ENVI MEPs have previously voted to increase the overall climate ambition of the EU ETS, he stressed that these developments lead to a de facto increase of the 2030 climate target, even though it is not explicitly stated in the REPowerEU plan.

He then referred to the Green Tank study that shows the advantages of Greece compared to other EU countries in terms of the potential for rapidly reducing the dependence on Russian gas through the development of renewable energy sources and not through a return to lignite as suggested by several opinion makers. However, he added that the issue for both Greece and the EU is not only phasing out Russian fossil gas, but the overall independence from fossil fuels, since especially in electricity production there are super-mature and clean technological solutions that are not only sustainable but also cost-effective.

In the same context, he welcomed the commitment by Alexandra Sdoukou, Secretary General for Energy & Mineral Resources at the Ministry for the Environment and Energy, regarding the quantitative targets of the revised National Energy and Climate Plan to be at least equal to the corresponding European ones.  Thus, we expect a reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% in 2030 compared to 1990 levels, an at least 45% share of renewables in gross final energy consumption (electricity, heating-cooling and transport) by 2030 and a reduction of final energy consumption in 2030 by at least 13% compared to the 2020 predictions for 2030.

Energy communities to counter the energy crisis

Nikos Mantzaris welcomed the examples of energy communities presented by Dimitris Kollias, Development Manager of Greenesco Energy SA in Chalki and Crete. However, he commented that the case of net metering in Greece cannot be advanced only through corporate social responsibility, but citizens themselves should be able to do this, using existing national and European resources that need to be released as well as new electricity grids. He also pointed out that energy communities are also being promoted through REPowerEU, and the national Climate Law regarding in the building sector should be brought in line in terms of new zero-emission buildings from 2030 and the mandatory installation of photovoltaics in new residential buildings from 2029, in new commercial and public buildings from 2026 and in existing commercial and public buildings from 2027.

Renewables need a new and functional spatial framework

Nikos Mantzaris stressed that a successful response to local reactions against renewables must have two main components: a new and modern specific spatial framework for renewables that will be developed with the participation and consultation of scientists from all relevant disciplines, as well as the systematic consultation with local communities. Drawing on the example of Tilos, where the first hybrid RES system in the Mediterranean is now operating, he argued that with positive attitude and open consultation with citizens, all problems can be overcome in order to implement projects that are not only necessary but also truly beneficial for the local communities.

Green hydrogen a key to decarbonising industry

Commenting on the plan for the exploitation of green hydrogen technology in the lignite regions of Western Macedonia, Nikos Mantzaris said that REPowerEU places particular emphasis on green hydrogen, since it is an important fuel for the decarbonisation of difficult sectors of the economy, mainly industry and heavy vehicle transport.

Regarding the region of Western Macedonia, he said that besides green hydrogen, there are other energy storage technologies in which the region could and should invest, such as pump hydro energy storage, batteries and even the conversion of lignite plants into thermal energy storage plants produced from renewables – a technological option that, apart from its other advantages, will also preserve jobs in the lignite industry.


Other participants in the TV panel discussion included Alice Korovesi, General Manager of INZEB, Giorgos Kasapidis, Governor of Western Macedonia Region, and Dimitris Kollias, Development Director of Greenesco Energy SA.

Video interventions by Alexandra Sdoukou, Secretary General for Energy & Mineral Resources at the Ministry for the Environment and Energy, as well as by MEPs Maria Spyraki, Emmanuel Fragos and Nikolaos Alavanos, were also presented.

The show was broadcast live on 21 May 2022. You can watch it here (in Greek):