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Customer Awareness Is Key to Accelerate the Energy Transition

Customer Awareness Is Key to Accelerate the Energy Transition

By Apostolos Panos – Head of Energy Management, Enel Green Power Hellas
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The way we produce and consume goods is systematically degrading the planet we live on. Indeed, most of the products we give for granted as a western society – such as batteries, clothes, oil, meat, plastics – would simply be inaccessible if they were priced in order to include their actual environmental and labor costs. To tackle climate change, we must switch to a more sustainable way of producing and consuming.

The energy sector is leading this sea change. We are living in the midst of the so-called “4th Industrial Revolution”, with the ongoing energy transition driven by the digital revolution, the climate challenge and the rise of distributed renewable energy, tying in with the electrification of the transportation sector. Countries all over the world are committed to achieve specific environmental goals and to dramatically increase the share of renewable energy sources (RESs) in their generation mix.

In the decade between 2009 and 2018, Greece suffered the longest recession of any advanced western economy to date – but is now recovering from the crisis, proving its strength and resilience. The main pillar for this recovery is the development of RESs in the country, based on the firm commitment to fully decarbonize the generation mix by 2028. The Greek energy plan is influenced by a plethora of technical and economic factors, and has ramifications into national issues, energy security, environmental policies, network/grid security, as well as the nation’s economy and competitiveness.

For example, the forthcoming closure of lignite plants – lignite being the predominant fuel for electricity generation, until recent times – requires large-capacity RES plants to be installed beforehand, ideally scattered throughout the country. But RES plants, unfortunately, cannot be placed anywhere: there are various constraints, especially due to Greece’s geomorphic peculiarities. These are the kind of complex issues that need to be addressed and solved in order to tap into the great potential of natural resources – sun and wind mainly – that clearly point the Greek energy sector towards the only sustainable path it has for electricity generation.

 

A leading role in Greece

Enel Green Power is playing an active role in this energy transition – in fact, it has been leading it for more than 10 years with a portfolio of wind, solar and hydroelectric plants totaling approximately 464 MW, which it plans to expand in the upcoming years. The main challenge for the company, as well as for the development of sustainable energy in general, is the fact that RESs in Greece are now exiting the advantageous framework of financial support schemes such as Feed-in Tariffs or Feed-in Premiums, and must compete with conventional generation in a newly free energy market.

In more advanced markets, where end-consumers are allowed – and more motivated – to actively participate and choose the source of the energy they use, Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (CPPAs) are an effective tool to make renewable energy competitive and attractive. But what is the situation and what are the tools available in countries like Greece, where the energy market is not fully liberalized and end-consumers have less interest in and knowledge about the energy sector? What can companies and organizations do to support and grow their business in this context?

The answer lies in our ability to shape the business environment and our clients’ consumption profiles. Indeed, this was the strategy we pursued at EGP in Greece by securing deals for the provision of Guarantees of Origin that will ensure 100% renewable energy meets the needs of Hellenic Cables and Lamda Hellix. These two companies were not selected by chance. Hellenic Cables might seem like a controversial choice to some, because its cable manufacturing business represents the traditional heavy industry; Lamda Hellix, on the other hand, is active in the sector of data centers, which is considered amongst the most important and fastest growing in Greece. Both clients actually allow us to highlight the real need for change in the way we consume energy, vertically, across all manufacturing and business sectors.

 

Guarantees of Origin

Guarantees of Origin (GOs) are the only defined tool we have to ensure electricity is generated from RESs:

  • They are green labels or trackers that guarantee that a certain unit of electricity was produced sustainably.
  • They can be traded when a company buys a GO as part of the documentation provided for the electricity it received or consumed, the GO is deleted from a dedicated electronic registry.
  • This single, standardized system makes it possible to track ownership, verify claims and ensure that GOs are only sold once and never counted twice.

Clearly, GOs can be considered as a way to introduce CPPAs with RES producers into the market:

  • They can be seen as the Trojan horse that will allow end-consumers to directly access the source of the electricity they consume, creating awareness and sharing knowledge.
  • Thus, the GO market aims to promote and strengthen RES investments in financial terms, but also to support individuals who want to change their energy consumption profile and reduce their environmental footprint.

 

The role of the customer

Customers’ knowledge and interest about the origin of energy-related products and services are rapidly increasing, requiring growing transparency from companies as they define their role in society and in the climate challenge. Those that will prove able to embrace a new culture – one in which clients are engaged and familiar with the entire production, distribution and marketing process – and those showing a strong commitment to continuously prove their social and environmental awareness will emerge as leaders in the energy field. The key is for them to offer propositions that emphasize good value and a common-sense approach to going green and digital.

EGPH, compounding its role in the energy sector and its responsibilities towards society, is at the forefront of the energy transition in terms of both technology and awareness: we commit to creating a future fueled by 100% renewable energy, while giving the utmost priority to the fight against climate change and energy poverty, to ensure sustainable development.

With transparency, reliability, innovation and proactivity as our values, we aim to create impact not only in our business, but also in our world. Because, to say it with Jacques-Yves Cousteau, “For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.”

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