“100 Climate Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030”
Responding to the EoI of the EU Mission on 100 Climate Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030, Kozani has recently presented its proposal as a candidate city, strongly aiming to be among the first Climate Neutral Cities in Greece!
Kozani is the seat of the Region of Western Macedonia, which has been for decades the primary center for energy supply in Greece, producing up to ¾ of electricity from lignite, while more than a third of its active population was engaged or related to the lignite mining and electricity production. The 2019 Governmental decision to decarbonise Greek economy and energy, results into the decommissioning of almost all power plants by 2023. Even though the National Energy and Climate Plan is a first step to the energy transition, for the Municipality of Kozani its consequences are imminent and more severe, spanning even further to implications on employment (among the highest in the EU) and income of the local economy, which added to the repercussions of a decade – long national economic recession. Furthermore, Kozani’s district heating system was based on the heat provided by the lignite thermal power plants, the decommissioning of which is leading to a gap in heat generation capacity for residential use.
It is therefore evident that Kozani, more than any other city in Greece, is facing the national challenge of transitioning to a greener future.
The Mayor realized early enough the challenge and took initiatives towards a post-lignite transition, by leveraging the importance of making the City of Kozani climate neutral by 2030, while maintaining Municipality’s energy character: signatory member to the Covenant of Mayors in 2011, actions for greening of the district heating system, adoption of bioclimatic design for the municipal buildings covering part of their energy needs from RES, energy retrofitting of school buildings including the installation of PVs on their rooftops, the first successful implementation of the country’s pilot electromobility program in cooperation with the Power Corporation Company, a Science Dissemination Center and Technology Museum (Technopolis) as well as a comprehensive Strategic Plan for the digital transformation of the Municipality, including the potential hosting of a Green Data Center in the region, are some of Municipality’s successfully implemented or on-going initiatives.
Looking to the future, the Municipality established the first Energy Community at local governmental level accompanied by the installation of a solar park, covering the needs of the Municipality in electricity. Moreover, it actively involves the citizens as both consumers and prosumers of green energy, including solar, solar thermal, geothermal, bioenergy, etc, while also working in the direction of storage, as some of the major projects in Greece, including big batteries and hydrogen production and storage are scheduled to take place in the region of Kozani. Meanwhile, the first regional Integrated Waste Management Company in Greece was established under a PPP, after Kozani’s initiatives, by adding an increasing number of separate waste streams collection. These streams will be exploited, mainly within a Circular Economy Park, for the production of high added value products, while also educating the citizens for the necessary behavioral change.
The few but strongly aligned to this effort hubs of excellence, such as the University of Western Macedonia, the Institutes of the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas, the Cluster of Bioeconomy and Environment of Western Macedonia and other, are a key factor to plan and deploy the Innovation Zone in Kozani, while they assist the process of transforming an existing industrial park into a Business Innovation Park.
The existing electrical grid, the favorable to RES climate conditions and the energy and recycling culture of the Municipality are its comparative advantages attracting significant investments in this field: major national and international companies such as ELPE Renewables SA, RWE Renewables, PPC, DEPA, are among others that have already invested or plan to invest in large scale RES projects in or close to the Municipality. Its convenient location (Egnatia Odos, a TEN-T highway connecting the West – Italy and Central Western Europe – to the East – Turkey and Middle East- crosses the Municipality) turn Kozani into a transport, urban, energy and waste management hub.
Kozani from a city traditionally related to lignite, can reinvent itself and move ahead to a greener future, showing the way to other Greek and EU cities towards a greener and digital transition.
That is why Kozani should be a top priority under 100 Climate Neutral and Smart Cities to convey this message to many other cities, in Greece and abroad!