Two American officials visited the northern Greece port of Alexandroupolis, which has become a key NATO infrastructure, on Tuesday and met with local government officials.
US Embassy Charge d' Affaires Maria Olson and US State Department Director of the Office of Southern European Affairs Josh Huck met with Mayor Yiannis Zamboukis, Deputy Regional Director of Evros Dimitris Petrovits, and Metropolitan Anthimos of Alexandroupolis, Traianopolis and Samothrace.
They also paid a visit to the Port Authority of Alexandroupolis and were briefed by its chairman, Konstantinos Chatzimichail, on the region's energy prospects and development.
The city is a critical link in European energy security, stability, and economic development, they said.
They also referred to US Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis, who has called Alexandroupolis the basic passage to the Western Balkans and the Black Sea, while it also plays a critical role in NATO's security on its southern flank.
Olson and Huck concluded their visit to the northeastern Greek city at the Ethnological Museum of Thrace.
The visit comes as a joint venture featuring three energy companies is developing an 840-MW natural gas-fired power plant at the port of Alexandroupolis. The plant will be linked to the liquefied natural gas (LNG) floating terminal at the port.
It is expected to supply electricity to Greece and also to markets in southeastern Europe.
Damco Energy, a subsidiary of Copelouzos Group; Public Power Corp., or PPC, the largest electric power company in Greece; and DEPA Commercial are collaborating on the gas-fired plant. The facility is expected to be completed by the end of 2025.
The Alexandroupolis LNG terminal, with a regasification capacity of 5.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year, is expected to become operational by the end of 2023. The terminal will be 20% owned by Bulgaria, which is expected to receive the first electricity produced by the plant, according to the project designers.
“We are here to welcome a project that is changing the energy landscape: Greece is now shielded … it acquires energy sufficiency,” said Copelouzos Group CEO Christos Copelouzos during a January 14 ceremony announcing the project.
“At the same time, a new energy pillar is being created for southeastern Europe, as our country will be able to export electricity to the neighboring Balkan states … to Bulgaria, North Macedonia and even Serbia," he added.
The port-based power plant will be a combined-cycle facility, with both gas and steam turbines, with the steam turbines powered by exhaust heat from the gas turbine. The plant’s electricity output is replacing that of three lignite coal-fired power plants that are being decommissioned.
The Copelouzos Group in a news release said the power plant will have mixed-fuel capability, and will be able to run on hydrogen fuel.
The company said the plant aligns with targets outlined in the European Green Deal, and will promote decarbonization in Greece’s power sector and ensure a reliable electricity supply.
Georgios Stassis, president and CEO of PPC, said: “The new Alexandroupolis power plant … is the result of the creative collaboration between the PPC Group and two important partners, DEPA Commercial and the Copelouzos Group, with the aim to contribute to the consolidation of the country’s role as a strong and, why not, an exporting productive player in the wider region of southeastern Europe. As is well known, clean energy is at the heart of our strategic planning.”
Ioannis Papadopoulos, chairman of DEPA Commercial, said, “Today is an important milestone, both for DEPA Commercial and the major energy groups we joined forces with for the implementation of the investment, as well as for Alexandroupolis, Greece and southeastern Europe."
"With the Alexandroupolis Power Plant, Greece acquires another crucial project that will contribute to the continuous supply of more cost-effective energy. At the same time, our country also has a new gateway for the transition to green energy, as the combined cycle plant will balance the system, allowing greater penetration of [renewable energy] in the energy mix," he added.