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Monday, July 26, 2021

OEB President: The pandemic should not distract us from the goal of the green transition

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The pandemic and the challenges it brought to the hotel sector should not distract us from its goal to build for tomorrow, said the President of OEB, Antonis Antoniou.

“It is reasonable that the immediate challenges for the hotel industry include the need to manage the health and safety of declining revenues, lack of liquidity and changing travel behavior. However, my view is that it would be a tactic mistake to be disoriented by the crisis and not to seize the opportunity now to build for tomorrow “, said Mr. Antoniou addressing an online conference on” Financing the green transition of Cypriot hotels “in the context of implementation of the Hotels4Climate program.

Mr. Antoniou said that OEB attaches special importance to the issues of green transition, adding that the Hotels4Climate project includes a description of the current situation of the foreign sector in Cyprus and Greece for energy savings, greenhouse gas emissions, promotion of best practices.

He reminded that the national target of Cyprus for emission reduction by 2030 amounts to 24%, however the percentage may increase, as the European target has increased from 40% to 55% by 2030.

“Achieving the goals requires a collective effort from all countries in all areas,” added Mr. Antoniou.

He also cited a survey by the European Travel Commission, which found that one-third of European travelers said they would be willing to pay more to achieve a reduced carbon footprint of their trip.

Panagiotis Kastanias, OEB Department of Energy & Environment, presented an overview of the current energy situation in the hotel sector in Greece and Cyprus by examining 20 4-star and 5-star hotels from each country. This is a study that lasted a year due to the delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

As he mentioned, a 5-star hotel consumes 39.5 kilowatt hours per night, while a 4-star hotel consumes 29.8 kwh (due to fewer functions).

Among other things, in terms of structural features, in both Cyprus and Greece 40% of the hotels had thermal insulation of the roof, while 25% of the participating hotels in Cyprus had thermal insulation in external masonry, while in Greece the corresponding percentage was 40%. Moreover, 9 hotels in Cyprus and 8 in Greece had solar thermal systems. In addition, in Cyprus, 7 hotels had autonomous photovoltaic systems, 1 had a photovoltaic plan with net metering and 2 with Net billing.

According to the research, about 40% of energy consumption is found in equipment such as kitchens, refrigerators, washing machines, gyms and Spas, collectively called process equipment, while cooling, heating and ventilation systems consume 35% of total energy. .

It is important to note that a typical hotel that can install about 80 solar panels will have energy savings for the production of domestic hot water between 30 and 40%. The estimated savings from an investment of € 20,000 amounts to € 8,000 per year, while, as mentioned in another case, it concerns the installation of photovoltaic systems with the net billing system at a cost of € 100,000, resulting in savings of € 26,000 per year.

Among the actions that contribute to the greatest savings at moderate cost are shading systems, thermal insulation of the roof, heat pumps, energy saving systems in cooling, heat recovery systems, while low-cost actions concern staff training, implementation good practices, marking and improving lighting efficiency.

At the same time, the official of the Ministry of Energy Andreas Lizidis referred to the various sponsorship plans of the Ministry for the green transition for the programming period 2021 – 2027.

In particular, he said that during this period there are € 547 million in funding, of which 61% or € 334 million for the green economy and 38% or € 208 million, for projects to strengthen competitiveness.

He also said that in the first half of 2022 the plan to promote energy efficiency investments with a budget of € 40 million will be announced, while he referred to the digital upgrade plan of € 30 million, which will be announced in the second half of 2021, which can help process optimization.

Anthi Charalambous, Director of the Department of Energy & Environment, OEB presented a study examining incentive plans for either sponsorships or other loans to enhance the green transition and analyzed the financial opportunities.

“We need to understand very great efforts in all areas to achieve -55% by 2030,” he said.

As he mentioned, out of 820 tourist accommodations, 4 and 5 star hotels are over 90, while only six were EMAS environmental management certification despite the sponsorship from the Ministry of Agriculture, while 24 hotels were Travelife certified because travel agents request it.

He stressed, however, that there is no specific investment model for energy efficiency and emission reduction. Each investment must be considered individually. They definitely need special funding models, he said.

Both Ms. Charalambous and the hoteliers who participated in the discussion highlighted the need for the Cypriot authorities to consider the possibility of including in the photovoltaic plans with net metering and net billing, the installation of systems in more remote areas, since due to their architecture the hotels have difficulties in installing photovoltaics.

Referring to hoteliers' responses to the investigation, Ms. Charalambous said that SMEs in Cyprus prefer to finance savings operations with their own resources and then resort to sponsorship schemes mainly due to bureaucracy and then resort to banks, which do not have technocrats to look at savings due to investments in savings systems.

Finally, the Director of the Business Department of the Bank of Cyprus, Xenios Konomis said that the bank is considering the presentation of “green loans” for businesses. He explained that loans in areas such as energy efficiency, recycling, pollution prevention, sustainable water and energy upgrading of facilities are considered as green loans.

“There is a long way to go and we hope that with the new government plans the bureaucracy will be reduced a little so that in combination with the bank loans we can turn a large part of the hotel sector into a green industry,” he said.

Regarding hoteliers' answers that the banks do not have technocrats who use energy savings during the approval of loans, he said that the bank cooperates with specialized houses to evaluate the specific plans. He noted, however, that loans are valued on the basis of each customer's risk.

Source: politis.com.cy

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