The future of energy: Green transition and energy communities

The energy transition in Greece is in full swing and experts, scientists and citizens map the most important developments, answering the questions of journalist Romanos Gοtzos, in the podcast series “The Future of Energy” produced by Cinergies Co-Op with the support of Heinrich Böll Stiftung Greece. Among them, Nikos Mantzaris and Ioanna Theodosiou comment on the path towards fossil fuel phase out and the transition to renewables, as well as the role of energy communities in creating a new energy model.

In episode #1 titled “The Transition in Greece” Nikos Mantzaris highlights the progress of renewables in electricity production and the ambitious targets set by Greece and other EU countries for the sector’s decoupling from fossil fuels. He underlined the crucial role that electricity storage technologies will play in this process for energy security and the need for grid development. He also pointed out the risk – both climate and economic – of new investments in fossil gas, at a time when Europe’s policy has moved in the opposite direction. Finally, he pointed out that the transition to renewable energy sources creates the potential for a new decentralised energy model where citizen participation and self-production of energy already play a key role.

Other participants included Lefteris Ioannidis, former Mayor of Kozani and member of the network Ofelos,  Charis Kazantzidis, president of Akrini Community, Kozani municipality, and Nikos Chatziargyriou, Professor, NTUA.

In episode #2 titled “Energy Poverty” Nikos Mantzaris analyzes the role played by geopolitical developments and in particular Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that led to a surge in citizens’ interest in energy and energy sufficiency and the acceleration of the green transition. In the discussion, he highlighted Greece’s great progress in achieving independence from Russian fossil gas and reducing fossil gas consumption overall, arguing that by switching to renewables, a permanent reduction in gas can be ensured without investing in new infrastructure, and protecting both the climate and citizens.

Other participants included Fereniki Vatavali, Greece’s National Center for Social Research – EKKE, and Alis Korovesi, INZEB.

In episode #5 titled “Energy Communities“, presenting data from The Green Tank’s Community Energy Watch, Ioanna Theodosiou comments on how the technology of renewables itself reinforces the decentralization and democratization of the energy model; a demand that originates from the climate justice movements and requires citizen participation in the processes and decision making for the energy transition. The role of the institutional framework is crucial in this direction. Thus, among the positives of the new law on energy communities in Greece, Ioanna Theodosiou mentioned that it provides additional electrical space and financial resources for energy communities, and that it limits the phenomenon of hijacking by reducing the percentage of profits that a community can distribute to its members.

Other participants included Dimitris Kitsikopoulos, Electra Energy Cooperative and member of the energy community KOINERGEIA, Lina Tsaltabasi, WEnCoop, Giorgos Kontaksis, Energy Community of Karditsa, and Dirk Vansintjan,

The series was released on December 21, 2023 and touches also on the topics of mobility, buildings and savings and energy poverty.

The episodes, as well as more information on the participants are available on spotify and on the webpage of Heinrich Böll Stiftung Greece (in Greek).