Energy communities, Western Macedonia and the challenge of energy democracy

The need for energy communities – both in Greece in general and in Western Macedonia in particular – to truly serve the spirit of energy democracy was addressed by energy consultant Stelios Psomas in a podcast episode of the newspaper “Chronos Kozanis”, presented by Socrates Moutidis. The episode was produced a part of a cooperation between “Chronos Kozanis” and The Green Tank.

Regarding Western Macedonia, according to Green Tank data, the region registers about 300 energy communities and the project applications amount to 650 Megawatts.

However, as Psomas observed, citizens of the region are disenchanted with the progress of the energy transition. Although there are ministerial decisions for the creation of four large projects of 100 megawatts each and the allocation of ~400 megawatts for collective energy community schemes in Kozani and Florina, there is no prediction as to when the electrical space will be made available for these projects to proceed.

Stelios Psomas referred to the opportunities for Western Macedonia with the new “Apollonprogramme, according to which an energy community will be created in each of the 13 regions of the country so that the first and second tier local authorities, as well as the public utilities and local public utilities receive 50% of the energy they consume free of charge.

He also estimated that this would require an investment of 35 million euros for self-production in Western Macedonia, on the basis that mature projects (ie. that already have terms of connection) would be used.

At the national level, despite the fact that Greece is one of the EU-27 leaders in energy communities, there is a number of problems, such as the issue of the adequacy of electricity space and especially the fact that 90% of these energy communities are photovoltaic projects for sale of energy and not for self-consumption.

Of course, this is not in line with the spirit of cooperation that pervades energy communities.

“Energy democracy is not a figure of speech,” Psomas stressed, adding that solutions need to be found: the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator needs to free up even more energy space, financial support from the Fair Transition Fund must be for the establishment of new energy communities and procedures at all levels have to be sped up.

Following that route, citizens will be able to participate actively and enjoy the benefits of the energy transition, securing the energy their home or business needs at a reasonable price and in a fossil-free manner.

During the podcast, Giorgos Amanatidis, Regional Governor of Western Macedonia, revealed the plan to consolidate the two inactive energy communities of the region into one and the fact that the relevant funding from the Green Fund has not yet been used; while the nice president of the Network of Energy Municipalities, Lefteris Ioannidis, spoke about the lack of political priority at national and local level regarding energy transition issues.

The podcast was published on Tuesday 28 May 2024. You can find it (in Greek) here.