Dec 2019 Interview with Mr. George I. Kalavrouziotis, Founder and Executive Chairman of EUNICE ENERGY GROUP (EEG)
Overview of the Greek RES market – Key trends, developments, potential and objectives. What is Greece’s progress in producing Renewable Energy Sources and what is a player like EEG contributing to achieving the country’s climate and energy goals?
The renewable energy market in Greece, even in the years of financial crisis, much more today as the economy recovers, is constantly on the rise. The EUNICE ENERGY GROUP (EEG) stands out for its fully self-financed investments, which it develops in the production of technology, innovation and RES projects. Looking ahead, the EEG Group is keen on developing new projects for hybrid, wind and photovoltaic power plants in Storage and Interconnections. We are the only Group in Greece that produces its own solar and wind power plants and provides the market through its subsidiary company “WE ENERGY” 100% clean electricity from RES.
We are main protagonist in Greece and at the forefront of European and international energy and technology transfer and investment initiatives. Our activities plans and partnerships in Greece, Europe and the United States are in line with the new high-level goals Greece is committed to achieving in climate, announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at a recent UN meeting. These goals are also included in the National Plan for Energy for Climate, submitted on behalf of the Greek Government to the European Union, by Mr. Kostis Chatzidakis, Minister for the Environment and Energy.
There is a huge potential for new investment in Greece, the South-Eastern Mediterranean and Europe in the near future. We are ready to take the lead in them. Total investments of 25 billion euros are envisioned in RES technologies and projects, electrical interconnection and lignite phase-out, with the aim of contributing RES to gross final energy consumption of up to 35% by 2030, almost double the current level of 18% in our country.
Focus on EEG partnership with Blink Charging Co-impact and the expected benefits for the Country and the Group. Significance of US Partnerships to boost renewable energy production in Greece: What can US investors and stakeholders bring to the table?
Our vision and projects are a pole but also a firm guarantee of investment in technology and development. The strong pillars of our partnerships are on the one hand that we provide legal certainty, at institutional level and security on the implementation and return on investment and on the other hand with the basic principles of environmental protection, social contribution and corporate governance (ESG) standards, i.e. the adoption of ESG criteria – Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance – in the investment process and choice of investment placements. Our projects are international examples of applied technology and innovation and successful international collaborations. We have proven knowledge, experience and effectiveness in designing, studying, licensing, financing and implementing major and significant projects at Greek and International level; and at the same time good knowledge of the market and competition.
The Blink Charging Europe Ltd. joint venture (“Blink Europe”) is one of the tangible examples of effective investment and technology cooperation. It is part of Blink’s global alliance building strategy and provides for it penetration into European markets at a time when electric vehicle charging is rapidly developing. It is based on the fact that we manage to invest in manufacturing, such as the wind turbine plant for the first time in Greece, the electric car chargers also for the first time in Greece exporting to America and other countries and setting up an electric vehicle charging network throughout Greece, coming soon to the Balkan countries, Cyprus and all over Europe.
EEG Group is actively involved in the Greek-US investment cooperation. The Group is a member of the task force developed in collaboration with the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce and with the support of the active US Ambassador to Athens Mr. Pyatt Geoffrey Ross for the implementation of mutually beneficial US investments in Greece. At the same time, we are involved in Greek, European and World Organizations and Academic Institutions but also in collaborations with them such as Climate-KIC, EASE and the Atlantic Council. All EEG investments are compatible with: the GSE for green financing, as well as with the Greek, European and World Green Deal. The activities and technological achievements of our Group are distinguished as fully self-financed investments, without the participation of any kind of state or community subsidy or aid. We believe that healthy entrepreneurship must be committed, with all its strength, to actual investments, so that there can be growth, which is the oxygen of healthy entrepreneurship and the solid foundation of sustained economic and social growth for all.
Close monitoring of EEG’s innovative energy projects, technologies and concepts – How does the EEG team shape its footprint in Greece and the region?
The projects and technological successes of the EEG Group shape the developments that drive national, European and international energy transition goals and are constantly being the source of new optimistic announcements.
Indicatively: In recent days, the State Secretary for Energy, Mr. Gerasimos Thomas, through the official Greek News Agency (ATHENS NEWS AGENCY/ MACEDONIAN NEWS AGENCY), announced the major projects of Israel-Cyprus-Greece and Egypt underwater interconnections with ‘AEGEAN Project’. This is the flagship project of the EEG Group, for which we hold a Production License, Interim Association Agreement, and is currently in the final stage of being licensed by the Greek State.
EEG’s ‘AEGEAN Project’, with a budget of over 1.4 billion euros, which includes the installation of a wind turbine network on the islands of the Dodecanese and the Cyclades and the construction of interconnections is the critical link between three continents, Asia, Africa and Europe. It is also a project of European interest and outlook, as it has been included in the ENTSO-e Ten-Year Development Plan under the heading ‘Project 293 – SOUTHERN AEGEAN INTERCONNECTOR (SAI)’.
At the same time, the ‘AEGEAN Project’ has enormous strategic investment and geo-strategic importance for the wider region. Mr. Georgios Kremlis, who has been a senior EU official for many years and today is Adviser to the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Energy and Climate, recently publicly stated that with the implementation of the Interconnection Project and the installation of wind farms, the Greek rocky islets automatically become zones of European and international investment in RES energy production.
How the team works to innovate in new technology areas? Elements of EEG’s smart energy solutions and the issue of RES storage. – The EEG Innovation
The EEG Group projects are pioneering applications to become catalytic examples of applied technology and innovation in the production, storage, and smart energy management of RES. The Group employs exclusively people with high technical know-how, scientific experience and skills in all areas of RES development.
As I said before, our projects are constantly producing new optimistic announcements. These days in Athens, the Hellenic Wind Energy Association (ELETAEN) is celebrating its achievements and records in its field of activity, raising the flag for two major successes of the EEG Group, which are:
- Production of EEG’s EW16 thetis 50kW model, the technologically innovative small wind turbine, at our Group owned plant in Mandra Attica. EW16 thetis is fully integrated into our technology programs for Energy Production, Storage and Self-management. The operation of our unit is also associated with the development of in-house Smart Home Devices and the production of electric car chargers, as part of the Blink Charging Joint Venture, with the aim of developing the Electricity Network in Greece and Europe.
- The large RES community is also celebrating after the successful pilot launch at normal operation of the first Hybrid Station on Tilos Island in the Aegean Sea. The project of the EEG Group ensures the energy autonomy of the island of Tilos from renewable energy sources. It is a project that has received many awards, and it is a landmark for Greece, with European and World Recognition integrating the innovative S4S system (STORAGE FOR SUSTAINABILITY, SMARTGRID, SOLUTIONS, SECURITY) developed by EEG for digital self-generation, storage and intelligent energy management. Tilos Project is a benchmark for all new investments of the Group.
It is noteworthy that Patrick Clerens, Secretary General of the European Energy Saving Organization (EASE), a prominent member of which is the EUNICE ENERGY GROUP (EEG), recently stated in the Media during his visit to Athens in January that: “Overall, the experience gained in the Tilos Project of the Greek energy group EEG will enable participants to scale up the solutions provided to meet the needs of larger energy systems. Also, this knowledge will be crucial for defining new market and business case plans.”
What objectives can we expect from the EEG to advance? Information about EEG’s smart energy solutions and the issue of RES storage.
The EEG Group strongly supports national and European objectives in reducing carbon footprint and in the dynamic development of RES energy generation and storage projects. At the top of the EU energy transition plan and the National Energy and Climate Plan are the Decisions on lignite phase-out. At the same time, these investments are at the forefront of the design and decisions of the World Bank, the European Investment and Development Bank and other investment and development organizations.
It is in this context on which the new proposal of the EEG Group is based. Moreover, the proposal was formally submitted to the EU in November 2019 to join the Entso-e and PCI of the first large-scale battery storage investment in Western Macedonia – Ptolemaida of 250MW, 1000GWh. We are preparing a technologically innovative new Energy Storage Project, utilizing existing substation and power grid infrastructures, offering development solutions and jobs for the transition of this geographical area from polluting carbon to a new era of growth and clean energy.
Looking ahead: plans and priorities for the next 3-5 years to move the Group to the next level.
Having a successful journey through the adversities of the Energy sector, guided by the path of the mythical Ulysses through the Leastrygonians and the Cyclops, we are open and ready for the new challenges. Our philosophy is based on our 4 Assets – Build Alliances, Participate, Create Synergies, and Form Partnerships.
Greece has optimum conditions for Renewable Energy Sources (RES): air, wind, sun, sea. We say that “Greece may become Saudi Arabia of Renewable Energy Sources”, harnessing its natural wealth while at the same time highlighting and shielding the geostrategic importance of our country in the new European and World Energy Charter.
Greece, with the projects we implement and the technological solutions we develop, can generate wind energy, store it and supply it to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, thus becoming a genuine renewable energy hub.
A key element of our Group’s strategy is extroversion. We all come together for a shared vision: to co-create, using new technology and innovative solutions, a better, energy-sufficient, independent and secure world for all, respecting the environment and the human being. We are at the forefront of global developments, creating corporate value while contributing to the nation’s economic prosperity. We work together to promote energy autonomy and independence through Renewable Energy Sources (RES), green energy generation and storage and advanced technologies, enhancing social cohesion. We develop synergies for a safe, clean environment without fossil fuels, at the same time helping to combat energy poverty and, in parallel, boosting the solidarity economy, with the ultimate aim of making the sun and wind a public good and giving citizens the freedom – and the support they need – to generate, manage and exchange clean energy. To become NetProsumers.
What is your vision and your personal ambitions as a CEO.
Our world is changing, and our plan is to be the ones who shape change: together, WE change the world. RES is changing the model of energy management and exploitation on the planet and leading to a new citizens’ energy democracy.
All of our investments are green, promote society and protect the environment, such as the production and sale of WE ENERGY that is unique in Greece with 100% green energy, the Blink network for charging electric cars exclusively with green energy, autonomy with RES and for NetProsumers, either individually or as energy communities, such as the jolt platform. We also produce electric chargers as well as smart appliances that provide sophisticated systems for autonomous homes or corporate buildings to manage their energy needs. At the same time, we encourage the creation of Energy Communities, both within our employees and throughout Greece. This type of initiative contributes to the promotion of innovative energy solutions and empowers citizens to participate in the energy, both as producers and consumers of the Grid, at the same time, as ‘NetProsumers’.
The future is Democracy in Energy. The consumer as a natural person or as an Energy Community would be able to participate in electricity markets, generate and consume their own energy without having to pay taxes, or even profit from wholesale electricity price fluctuations. Energy storage forms a link between sustainable energy production and economic added value for consumers. The energy sector around the world is moving very fast, but the future undoubtedly belongs to renewable energy combined with storage and modern technology. Innovation and technologies will play an important role in accelerating its use. EEG Group is part of this revolution. We also refer to it, characteristically, as the “couch revolution”, because it allows you to become a ‘NetProsumer’ from the comfort of your home, by producing, consuming, storing and selling energy, if redundant, onto the Grid.
Just as Democracy as a Political System originated in Greece and was adopted by the whole world, that’s how I’d wish for Democracy in Energy to begin in my Country. We are already promoting the implementation of the “ΑΥΤΟΝΟΜΩ” program (Being Energy Autonomous) that ensures the transformation of Consumer into NetProsumer.