ECONOMY

Energy investments need acceleration

Greece’s power consumption in 2006 represented 0.37 percent of the world’s total, but is expected to drop to 0.25 percent by 2030, according to a study by Alpha Bank. A rather sad conclusion drawn from the data provided by the study is that the estimated temperature rise by 2 to 4 percent by the year 2070 (as part of global warming) could not be mitigated even if Greece were able to reduce emissions to zero as of 2020. The threat of global warming, including Greece’s wider region, could be moderated only if the US could be persuaded to impose a tax on consumption of gas and diesel; if China, Russia and many other developed countries scrapped the huge subsidies to energy product consumption; and if the world significantly improved the efficient use of primary energy forms in power generation, transport, residential uses etc, by capitalizing on today’s advanced technology. Alpha Bank analysts estimate that there is currently a serious lag in the necessary energy investments, which could secure sufficient energy for the domestic economy and allow further expansion of the country’s energy sector across Southeastern Europe. Alpha’s study, published in its latest monthly economic bulletin, lists a number of reasons hindering investments in energy, including the inexpensive energy generated by the Public Power Corporation (PPC) owing to the low cost of lignite; not taking into account the cost of balancing certain PPC deficits; strong opposition from various bodies against efforts to implement the investment programs of PPC or other companies; and, the state’s major involvement which is seen as substituting private companies’ appetite for risk taking in the energy sector. Imports Greece has long imported a considerable proportion of its power requirements from its northern neighbors, like Albania and Bulgaria. But the closure last year of two of Bulgaria’s nuclear reactors at Kozloduy (at the insistence of the EU ahead of the country’s membership) has severely curtailed the quantities which Bulgaria can export and has exacerbated Greece’s power predicament. In fact, ever increasing demand seems to be constantly outdistancing government-planned increases in production capacity and widening the power deficit. After a strike by power workers in March necessitated the use of valuable water reserves for hydropower production, ministers warned that the specter of power shortages and cuts this summer was now nearer.