Created in 2012 following the EU-mandated break up of the Greek power sector, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator (HEDNO) remains a 100-percent owned subsidiary of the Public Power Corporation S.A., yet operates independently. Today, HEDNO is among the top 10 largest power distribution companies in the EU, providing electricity to 7.4 million consumers and employing 7,000 people. Nikos Chatziargyriou, HEDNO’s Chairman and CEO, explains how they are laying the foundation of the smart grid era for Greece.
What is HEDNO’s role in the Greek energy market, especially under the EU’s Clean Energy Package?
The Greek retail energy market is in growth mode, with more and more actors appearing. The electricity grid is currently transformed from a traditional one-directional network to a bi-directional decentralized smart grid with active customers. Our role is very crucial for the successful transition of the market and for its smooth operation. The EU Clean Energy Package, a 117 billion euro clean energy subsidy, will encourage distribution system operators (DSOs) transition to renewable energy. In turn, HEDNO will employ innovative solutions for the incorporation of distributed power generation and active customer flexibility on a system level, for a more secure, cost efficient and sustainable electricity distribution system.
How are you going to promote investments in a post-crisis context?
Power distribution networks in Greece provide ample opportunities for direct investments since we are committed to adopting innovative, Smart Grid technologies. Additionally, the energy sector is expected to play a key role in supporting a return to economic growth. With larger investments, Greece could shape the entire Mediterranean energy map. HEDNO plans to support this transformation with a strategic plan, which foresees 1.25 billion euros of investment across 12 strategic projects through 2020. With these investments, HEDNO is on track to bring Greece’s power network to the smart grid era.
How will these strategic projects usher in a smart grid era?
Our strategic projects will allow greater reliability, more efficient integration of renewable energy resources and higher quality of supply. They also involve modernizing our operating and call centers, as well as a number of subprojects dedicated to the islands. I am convinced that HEDNO can play a primary role in Greece’s economic recovery through these smart grid investments.
What role does HEDNO play in overseeing renewable development?
Today, 75 percent of renewable energy resources are connected to Greece’s power distribution networks, thus HEDNO holds a very crucial place in clean energy development. In terms of figures, the total installed renewable energy resource (RES) capacity by HEDNO in Greece reaches up to 3,728 MW, while total RES installations in Greece reach 56,832, of which medium-voltage photovoltaic installations only reach 1,624. Notably, rich wind and solar power resources characterize the Aegean Islands.
How is HEDNO upgrading the Greek islands?
HEDNO is responsible for the operation of the islands and manages the electricity systems, being not only a distribution system operator, but also the market operator. We are upgrading all necessary infrastructure for the 32 electricity systems that are under our management. Amongst our 12 strategic projects, two concern islands. The first refers to building energy management systems that will operate islands by increasing the penetration of renewables and managing current thermal stations, which will reduce costs. The second and most innovative is a pilot project for smart islands, which will give birth to islands that operate on over 60% of renewables penetration annually, which means practically several hours with 100% penetration.
Where is Greece’s energy marketing heading, and how is HEDNO bringing it there?
A few years ago, coal was dominant. It represented 60% of the total production. Today coal is below 30% of production, while renewables have increased, along with related investments. Within the next year, we will have chosen a business model and tendering process to roll out Smart Meters, which will ultimately involve changing 7.5 million electromechanical meters throughout the country. Smart grid investments will create new jobs in Greece as well as new business opportunities, especially for SMEs.