ECONOMY

Conference hears concern on future energy supplies

Greek energy policy currently aims at the diversification of energy sources and securing adequate supplies but does not include plans for the development of nuclear power stations, Development Minister Christos Folias said yesterday. «The efforts of the Greek government concern the diversification of energy sources and securing adequate supplies to the market,» he told the Economist conference in Athens, titled «Driving the Global Agenda through 2020: Brainstorming with World Leaders for Political & Economic Prosperity.» Folias said that in the very competitive energy market which will result from the complete deregulation of the electricity and natural gas markets, the Public Power Corporation (PPC) «will stay big, healthy and strong, without crutches,» with efficient plants and and a modern distribution system. Dimitris Kopelouzos, CEO of Prometheus Gas, which has power production licenses it has not yet implemented, warned that Greece’s capacity deficit this summer will grow to 1,000 MW. He spoke of an «energy hunger in the Balkans» which hampers economic development, but said it was disastrous for systems with a deficit to rely on coal, as reactions of local communities made the time of their launch uncertain. Kopelouzos produced data showing that coal-fired stations produce 10 percent more expensive electricity compared to natural gas. He urged a speedy and well-planned construction of the gas pipelines that the country needs. Public Gas Corporation CEO Asimakis Papageorgiou predicted natural gas shortages in Europe in the coming decades. «There will be a marked deficit in supplies to Europe between 2015 and 2030,» he said. Hellenic Petroleum Managing Director Ioannis Costopoulos predicted a significant rise in demand for oil in coming years. He said Greece’s largest refiner said the group was vying to boost its position in the Balkans. Lignite and RES the way to go Greece can shield itself from a future energy crisis for at least 70 years by planning to rely 60 percent on lignite and 40 percent on renewable energy sources (RES) for its power production, an expert said yesterday. «In 150 months, we shall not know where to find energy,» said Antonis Foskolos, an associate professor at the University of Crete and a Canadian government research consultant, at a press briefing in Thessaloniki yesterday. Foskolos disputed the currently prevailing view that climate change is related to human activities. He predicted that mankind will face a serious energy crisis by about 2025 due to a shortage of cheap resources. In the case of Greece, he said, reliance on natural gas was totally wrong because it will be in «colossal» demand from the US, China and Japan in coming decades. Instead, reliance on lignite and RES would eliminate Greece’s dependence on energy imports. «We have lignite for at least the next 60 years,» Foskolos said, citing official data. According to estimates by Greek geologists, he added, the country has oil deposits of between 3 and 5 billion barrels, in Epirus, east of the island of Thasos in the northern Aegean, west of the island of Cephalonia, and in the northeastern Aegean.