If energy transition is one-way, it has to be acknowledged that Greece is moving on it at a high speed.

The war in Ukraine, that was unconceivable until it broke out, except for the humanitarian crisis, the tragedy of millions of people and the catastrophe it has entailed, brought up the issue of energy in an urgent and almost violent manner. 

The West is deeply concerned about the future of the energy sector. The ongoing war directs public discussions primarily on oil and gas. Energy transition, however, along with independence from fossil fuels, "green" growth, environmental concerns and the circular economy, that begins and does not end in sustainability, have become more relevant than ever before. The goal of the European Union (EU) is to become the first transnational organization in the world, with zero environmental footprint by 2050. The achievement of this ambitious goal requires decrease in the overall energy consumption and increase of the renewables’ share in the energy mix, in every EU Member State.

Regarding Greece, the Government of New Democracy, at the initiative of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, enacted into law the National Plan for Energy and Climate (NPEC). This legislation is of prime importance, as it introduces all the environmental issues in a coherent, methodical but also realistic way. The country’s de-lignification program holds a central part in the Strategic Plan of the Greek Government for the energy transition as it foresees the final closure of all power plants that use lignite as a raw material. The deadline has been set for 2023, with the exclusion of the Ptolemaida power plant, that is scheduled to continue its operation until 2028.

The de-lignification process is inextricably linked to the increase of the Renewable Energy Sources’ (RES) share in the energy mix of Greece. When it comes to the development of RES, the Greek Government has set clear objectives to be achieved by 2030, that are as follows: RES should reach 35% of the gross final energy consumption (the limit in the EU is 32%), 60% of the total electricity consumption, and 40% of the energy consumption for heating and cooling. RES should also correspond to a share of more than 14% in the transport sector. As a result, the reduction of energy expenditure in Greece should reach 38% compared to the forecasts of 2017 and the overall reduction of greenhouse gases to at least 40% compared to the figures of 1990.

Energy transition is complex, difficult, and costly. According to the Greek Government's strategic plan, the necessary resources for its implementation derive mainly from the European Regional Development Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, and the European Maritime and Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund. Also, there are new financing instruments, most notably the Just Transition Mechanism, that adopts the guidelines of the European Green Deal and the entire climate and energy package. The Connecting Europe Facility is an additional key EU funding instrument, that supports the development of major energy infrastructure projects across Europe.

On parallel level, synergies with private entities and companies can prove to be an effective choice. This is something that has already been tested in practice, like for example the case of cooperation between Volkswagen and the Greek government. The latter, having already created an investment-friendly environment in Greece, supports innovative projects with a development footprint in the country’s island regions - especially in the so-called islands of "barren line". 

Notably, an innovative program is already being implemented successfully in "Astypalea, a smart and sustainable island", in collaboration with the Volkswagen Group. The aim is to transform Astypalea into the first European model island, where transport will be smart and friendly to residents and visitors alike, while having a zero-climate footprint. Corresponding initiatives are also being implemented in Tilos and in other parts of Greece. 

If energy transition is one-way, it has to be acknowledged that Greece is moving on it at a high speed.