Energy Communities and Just Transition in Greece’s lignite areas

Nikos Mantzaris participated in the Energy Community Forum co-organized by the University of Western Macedonia, the Regional Association of Municipalities of Western Macedonia, and the Kozani Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The event started with opening remarks from the organizers and two online presentations on energy communities in Greece and Europe by MEPs Maria Spyraki (EPP), and Petros Kokkalis (The Left).

In the main presentation that followed, Nikos Mantzaris summarized the key results of the analysis recently published by The Green Tank on energy communities in Greece with emphasis on lignite areas. In particular, using the official data by HEDNO and GEMI, he highlighted the progress that has been made in Greece as renewable energy projects by energy communities has now exceeded 1 GW of installed capacity.

He stressed, however, that this progress concerns almost exclusively commercial projects, which have been developed at the expense of self-production projects. As a result, citizens, businesses and stakeholders who show a rapidly growing interest in meeting their electricity needs with photovoltaics without seeking profit from its sale, are unable to find grid space.

These problems are magnified in Western Macedonia, which is in second place nationwide in the number of energy communities (293), but is in first place in terms of pending applications (465 projects with a capacity of 377.5 MW). He also presented the positive developments that have emerged to address the above distortions and challenges, while he also referred to the available resources for the financing of self-production projects, especially in lignite areas, but also to the delays and shortcomings in their use. He concluded his speech with policy recommendations that could help address these challenges.

He then participated in the very lively discussion with the newly elected Regional Governor of Western Macedonia George Amanatidis, the PASOK MP of Kozani Paris Koukoulopoulos, mayors and many members of local government political groups of Western Macedonia, representatives of the University of Western Macedonia and research institutions as well as numerous members of energy communities active in the Region of Western Macedonia. The discussion was moderated by the journalist Socrates Moutidis, Xronos Kozanis. Apart from answering questions related to the results of the analysis, Nikos Mantzaris had the opportunity to stress the particular importance of the institution of energy communities for the Just Transition of the lignite areas, which, despite progress, still suffers from a lack of citizen participation.

The event was held at the auditorium of the Municipal Library of Kozani, on November 3, as part of the European Project SunSharing, which focuses on promoting the installation of energy communities with photovoltaic power plants in Greece, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Croatia, as well as on financing initiatives for such investments.

Find out more about the event held in Kozani in this link.