ECONOMY

Fresh wind blows in Greek energy

Significant opportunities for investments, higher employment and healthy conditions of competition have emerged in Greece through the ongoing liberalization of energy markets, new international energy links and the agreement on the creation of the Southeastern Europe Energy Community, a conference in Athens concluded last week. It further noted that these developments are allowing Greece, for the first time, to make the most of its geographical location, its comparative advantages in economic development and its political stability to emerge as the main player in the broader region. The two-day event, «Energy in the Present and Future: Considerations and Perspectives,» was organized by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) and the Kalofolias Group. IOBE suggested that the liberalization of the electricity market in Greece is complex and has been much delayed because of its special characteristics, which are summarized in the dominant position of the Public Power Corporation (PPC), the low rates particularly for domestic use, as well as the incomplete international connections which have made market collaboration virtually impossible. Experience from the operation of other liberalized electrical energy markets shows that after some time rates tend to decline. However, in other countries the charging systems had been rationalized before the markets themselves opened up. Greece will also need efficient mechanisms to deal with the peculiarities of its domestic fuel market, primarily the many players in retailing and the prevalence of illegal trade and tax evasion. In terms of energy lost and carbon dioxide quantities emitted, participants stressed that Greece is scraping the bottom of the EU barrel. The country’s Kyoto Protocol obligations dictate that these emissions must decrease considerably to the levels agreed. This, of course, is not only the responsibility of industry and electricity producers, but also of transport, services, the primary sector and, indeed, every citizen. The incorporation of natural gas in the energy balance and the simplification of the institutional and procedural framework for Renewable Energy Sources (combined with the Special Zoning Plans) lay the groundwork for rapid progress. The natural gas market is heading toward liberalization and proceeding well despite teething problems, the conference concluded.