PM Tsipras in the Clean Energy for EU Islands forum in Chania
Dear Commissioner Cañete, Ladies and Gentlemen, ιt is a great pleasure for me to welcome you in the beautiful city of Chania for the inaugural forum of an initiative that the European Commission and fourteen member-states, we decided last May, in Valletta.
The symbolism of this, first ever Clean Energy for EU Islands forum taking place in the largest island – Crete – of a maritime nation, whose many islands and islets in the Aegean compose the southeastern border of the European Union, reiterates the commitment of Europe to accelerate the transition to clean energy on islands.
And, apart from that, this European initiative is launched in a country whose government is determined to implement swiftly and fully the Paris climate agreement and take an active role in the global transition to clean energy.
We brought protection of the environment and climate from the sidelines of the political agenda to the center of the quest on how our society can move on to the future.
And we rendered long-term energy planning a political priority. And that, despite the seven-year economic and social crisis from which we are now exiting.
Because, as inequalities in clean energy access find a reflection in social inequalities, for us, affordable clean energy for everyone is more empowering remote islands with the necessary means to rid themselves of their reliance on diesel and move to renewable energy;
it is even more than helping families reduce high energy bills or developing local jobs and local economies.
For us, it is an instrument for social justice and change. This is why it is an uncompromising political priority.
Greece has already taken an active role in environmental protection in Europe. We should not forget that we are the only lignite-producing country in the European Union which has been pushing for the adoption of stricter limits on emissions.
But our efforts and contribution to clean energy transition are multi-faceted.
Domestically, the share of renewables in the energy mix is steadily increasing and the achievement of European targets in 2020 can be taken for granted.
In addition, we have adopted the guaranteed price system and the first competitive process for photovoltaic plants.
We are completing the consultation with the European Commission on a plan for competitive bidding for all forms of renewable energy sources – photovoltaics, wind power or, if there is interest, biomass and small hydroelectric plants.
At the same time, we are promoting a modern Special Spatial Plan for Renewable Energy Sources, the existence of which will help avoid time-consuming legal implications.
In cooperation with the Commission, we are also moving forward with the modernization of the environmental licensing framework for renewable energy sources.
The promotion of electromobility is also a central issue to be brought forward in the next period.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Greece has thirty two isolated electric systems of various sizes. Existing systems are mainly based on diesel combustion units.
So, in the area of decarbonization of islands, there is particular interest both in terms of interconnections as well as in terms of transition to low-carbon systems.
Smart Islands with high penetration of renewables and reduction of energy costs is our vision and ambition. We are committed to this end, implementing and testing innovative projects in Greek islands – an effort that will accelerate.
In addition, some days ago, the Ministry of Energy announced an – absent until now – organized long-term energy planning procedure, which is crucial for energy transition.
It immediately initiates a specific timetable for integration, taking into account current trends and commitments to environmental and energy issues, the international energy system, the goal of a European integrated market and the availability of energy resources.
The aim is: ‘’security of supply, consumer protection and the welfare of the country in general”.
Through this process, binding targets will be set, in the context of our country’s European and international obligations, such as the Paris climate agreement and EU targets for 2030.
In particular, actions and policies will be specified to ensure the success of this process.
It concerns five dimensions of the Energy Union:
- energy security
- energy market
- energy efficiency
- exemption from carbon emissions
- Research, innovation and competitiveness.
The Greek government has already submitted to the Parliament a new legislative framework for the Local Energy Communities.
Greece is the first among the EU countries to legislate this, based on the recast of two European Directives.
The Local Energy Communities present opportunities for synergies between citizens, small and medium enterprises, local and regional authorities and institutions.
The framework has been designed to allow for decentralized and efficient energy transition, pointing into the direction of innovative energy production, which is based on local ownership and initiatives.
The element of locality is central to their design, as the basic aim of the proposed law is to generate added value for local communities as well as to alleviate energy poverty.
The draft law takes account of the country’s particular morphology; that is, its intense insularity. The concept of insularity refers to isolation and removal from the center.
We, accordingly, introduce specific provisions for Energy Communities on islands with a small population, that is of less than 3100 people.
In addition, the initiative creates a favorable framework for the development of renewable energy sources power plants from local societies, enabling local communities to engage in the promotion of clean energy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Greece takes on responsibilities and initiatives. And this is a historic opportunity and responsibility towards the next generations; a responsibility that we should take.
We should not allow future generations to blame us for not seizing it.
We are here to take steps.
And we should take them – here and now.
I wish every success in this forum. The momentum is correct, we strongly support this initiative and we expect that it will give the right signal for the next day.
Thank you very much.