Dr. Maniatis opened his speech by acknowledging the importance of bringing together the academic community, the business community and the public sector. The mere fact that the energy portfolio of the EU is being held by Germany, signals the importance of the energy sector.

Dr. Maniatis continued by presenting the main pillars of the Greek energy policy nowadays:

The first pillar of the Greek energy policy is the deregulation of the market for electricity and natural gas. With regard to natural gas, the first big leap was done about one and half year ago, when the first freight of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) arrived in Greece by a company other than DEPA (Public Gas Corporation). With the law 4001/2011 (Aug. 2011) the market for natural was deregulated and the legal framework was adapted to the relative European regulations.

There have been efforts to do the same in the electricity market where there had been some unfortunate incidents with some private suppliers, but the situation where DEI (PPC – Public Power Corporation) supplies 99% of the electricity to households and corporations, can by no means continue.

The second pillar of energy policy is the introduction of RES (Renewable Energy Sources) with the aim to achieve a 20% participation of RES in the country’s energy balance. This is going relatively well and from September 2009 until December 2011 there has been an increase in the installed capacity of RES from 1.400 MW to 2.500 MW.

The third pillar of energy policy is the provision of lower electricity rates to households that are financially weak. This measure was only recently allowed be EU regulators, it happens for the first time in Greece and around 350.000 have registered to benefit from the reduced rates.

The fourth pillar of energy policy is the promotion of the usage of natural gas, both by households and by corporations. Currently the natural gas network is being extended to Megalopolis in the Peloponnese, in order to power DEI’s 800 MW power plant there.

At the same time, a public competition is under way to select three natural gas suppliers, one for East Macedonia and Thrace, on for Central Macedonia (excluding Thessaloniki) and one for Sterea Ellada (Central Greece). With regard to the Peloponnese, the legal framework for a natural gas supplier is already in place and the same is currently being done for Epirus and West Macedonia. The aim is to decrease the country’s dependence on oil and increase the usage of natural gas.

The fifth pillar of energy policy is the saving of energy. Greece has been spending recklessly on energy during the past years and there is enormous potential to achieve savings. This has already been achieved through innovative financing schemes. At the same time, a program is being implemented to save energy in public buildings, such as ministries, schools, municipal buildings etc. by making them less energy-consuming. This program will also benefit the construction sector which is itself experiencing a deep recession.

In addition, the legal framework for Escrow companies has been established. These companies will help corporations achieve energy savings by shielding professional buildings (industrial buildings, hotels, etc.) and they will be paid by the owners or users of these buildings, based on the savings achieved. This new business area will open up plenty of opportunities that will help revive the rest of the economy as well.

The sixth pillar of Greek energy policy, which constitutes a very big challenge for the country, is the connection of the islands with the electricity network of continental Greece. Each year Greece spends around 500 mil Euros so that the islands – Crete, the Cyclades and the Dodecanese – can enjoy relatively cheap electricity rates by using electric generators that burn crude oil. The connection of the islands with the electricity network of the mainland constitutes a mega-project of more than 10 bil Euros, which can be entirely self-funded.

The seventh and last pillar of the national energy policy is the goal to elevate Greece into an energy hub for Southeastern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean region. Firstly, there is the south corridor through which natural gas will be transported from Azerbaijan, through Turkey and Northern Greece to the Adriatic Sea, Italy and Central Europe. Secondly, there is the South Stream pipeline through which Russian natural gas will be transported through the Black Sea and Bulgaria towards Central and Southern Europe. Finally, discussions are under way about a pipeline that could transport natural gas from Israel, Cyprus and maybe Greece, into the rest of Europe.

To conclude his speech, Dr. Maniatis referred to the broad consensus of the Greek political parties with regard to research for oil fields. Dr. Maniatis expressed his optimism that research in this area will continue regardless of any changes in government.