“The Greek demand response market will be one of the most financially interesting in Europe”

This interview of Kostas Athanasopoulos, Sympower’s Commercial Director in Greece, was conducted by Michalis Mastorakis. The full interview can be read on EnergyPress.GR.

Sympower is one of the few market participants, acting in demand-response in Greece. What have you observed until now? Could you give us feedback in a few words on that journey? 

Demand response in Greece is a very promising market, that not only supports the creation of a sustainable energy grid, but also provides a way for industries to participate in balancing markets and reduce their energy costs

Our journey so far has been very interesting, albeit challenging. We were the first independent aggregator to go live on the market in June of 2023, so of course we’ve been a bit the Guinea pigs in the market of demand response in Greece. Our licencing process was quite long, since the TSO was simultaneously building the market and ensuing regulation. Actually, we have been in the Greek market for the last three years, as we wanted to be active in the field and support the TSO in establishing a successful and competitive market in Greece. 

We’ve brought our extensive knowledge and experience from the Nordics market to answer their questions and help them solve challenges. We’ve also dedicated time and resources to educating companies, as the overall awareness of demand response was close to nonexistent. We are continuing this education work, and we’ve hosted a webinar to demonstrate further how commercial and industrial businesses can benefit from demand response services. 

Of course, there are still issues that need to be addressed, but the TSO is working hard on fixing them.  They strongly believe in the future of demand response, and want to create a positive environment for FOSE (ΦΟΣΕ) to participate in. The TSO has learned through our participation in demand response, and we’re really proud to work closely with them to establish a successful demand response model and market in Greece. 

In the same spirit, what do you think has to be improved in the Greek market in order to promote in a better way the demand response? 

The Greek demand response is still in its infancy, so it has to learn to crawl and walk before being able to run. There is much room for improvement, but we must remember that it is a new market. 

So far, the first data that we’ve extracted is very promising and shows that the Greek demand response market will be one of the most financially exciting in Europe. 

There are still many aspects of the market to improve in order to bring it to the same professional level as the Nordics’. The rule book, that is to say the daily operations of the market, the rules and the settlement process, has to improve, as well as the overall communications with the TSO and integration into their platform. 

Despite all of these needed improvements, I can already say with the utmost certainty that the Greek demand response market is only going to grow. Yes, we do have to protect this market, but it also already makes sense for companies to enter it, just in terms of reducing their energy and production costs. 

Demand response is here to stay. The grid will require more balancing as we increase the share of renewable energy, and as a result more demand response will be needed. Battery storage and demand response cannot cover the grid’s balancing needs alone, we need a joint approach. 

The business case for demand response has already been proven, and it will continue to be financially attractive for companies to enter as the market develops. The grid will expand, and so will the demand response market. 

In my opinion, demand response is something «unknown» largely to the market. Do you think that the stakeholders and the Ministry have to take specific initiatives to change this situation? Do you have something to propose?  

Indeed, there is still a general lack of awareness regarding demand response. We have been working in Greece for the last three years, and we can see that industries still need to be made aware of demand response and the opportunities it can bring to their business. 

The TSO and the Ministry of Energy are actively trying to change this, but they need ramp up their effort to inform people. They have all the required data to run educational campaigns, produce case studies and articles, and show expected revenues for various industries and company sizes. 

So far, we have been the ones taking on the role of educators by creating series of articles and setting up a webinar to educate industries about demand response. Of course, our strength and reach are limited compared to what the TSO and Ministry can do to inform industries about what are balancing markets and demand response, how they can participate and which benefits they can receive. Even though we are experts in the field, after all, we are the number one aggregator in Finland and Sweden, we know that the TSO and Ministry can reach industries faster and better. 

I also advise the TSO and Ministry on promoting demand response in the right forums. In 2023, we were at the Power and Gas Supply Forum organised by Energy Press where we presented balancing services. Commercial and industrial companies with the right kind of assets for demand response attend this kind of forums, so they represent the perfect opportunity for the TSO to present the demand response market that they opened.

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