The Public Power Corporation (PPC) S.A., Greece’s top electric power company, went through an existential test along with the country when the crisis struck, but has today realigned its direction and is aiming to become a regional power leader. Emmanouil Panagiotakis, PPC’s chairman and CEO, explains how zero-carbon projects will play a role in the company’s new vision.
What are your views on the capacity of Greece to become a regional energy hub?
Greece can become the electric core for the Balkan countries. Given that our business is exposed to competition much more than the other companies, our experience both in the retail market and in production is substantial. This fact makes us hope and believe that we will play a leading, important and eventually dominant role inside the Balkan market.
Is PPC strong enough to assume this role despite recent financial challenges?
Due to the delays we had as a country in adapting to European policies, we have had very few years to apply changes that other countries or companies have had more time to work on. We have sold ADMIE, our transmission operator, and we have been obliged to sell 40% of our lignite potential, at the same time losing that respective market share. Despite these fundamental changes, we firmly believe that through diversification and expansion in other markets, we will substitute the losses in the electricity sector in Greece. In this way, we will also fulfill our imperative goal of becoming in the future a different PPC, smaller but equally dominant in the Greek electricity sector, following the example of other European companies, such as Enel.
Is Électricité de France (EDF) still at the negotiation table?
Changes to Europe’s energy map have been radical. All utilities are looking for their new role in view of the policy changes that have taken place in the sector of electrical energy. A noteworthy point was the Paris Agreement for climate change, COP 21, and there are also developments in EU, so both EDF and PPC are in search of their role inside this new environment that is being shaped. There are currently no discussions with EDF, as with anybody else, concerning the future of PPC.
We have proposed to EDF and we will have cooperation on individual issues, such as renewable energy or hybrids, like the Amari Hybrid Energy Project in Crete.
Is the development of renewable energy sources mainly for the islands or are you going to go through mainland as well?
We want PPC to gain the lost ground in terms or renewable energy sources. PPC was the first company in Europe to focus on renewable sources, in Crete and Kythnos. In Crete with a photovoltaic system and in Kythnos with a wind farm. However, we fell really behind with renewables falling to a market share of 5% or less. We agreed that this will be corrected and we are going to develop units on the islands and the mainland. We have the sun, we have the air but we also have the geothermal energy, which is mainly on the islands, the Cyclades and Dodecanese. We believe that through these natural resources, Greece has the potential to launch green and zero-carbon islands in the future. Our goal is to promote PPC into a major actor in this effort.
Is that going to be a new partnership with foreign investors?
We have collaborated with Enel in the past and we have invited them to collaborate on the growth of geothermy in the islands, one of our primary renewable resources. Concerning EDF and EDF Energy Renewables, we have a common company in Boeotia, nearby Thebes, a common windmill station, not so successful but adequate. We have also signed an MoU to create a hybrid station in Crete.