A green hydrogen project planned for northern Greece that carried an original investment plan of €780 million, called Green HiPo, has been delayed by bureaucracy for almost two years and it is unclear when it will move ahead, according to reports at OT.gr.

The news around the delays comes on the heels of a DBRS Morningstar report which highlights the large investment gap between Greece and its Eurozone peers.

Morning star says, “Creating an attractive investment climate will depend among others, in [Greece’s] ability to address structural weaknesses such as the red tape in businesses processes.”

About the HiPo project

The project is part of the EU’s green transition plan and target to consume 20 million tonnes of hydrogen by 2030, a goal that the European Hydrogen Observatory says will require between €86-120 billion in investments for core hydrogen infrastructure.

The investment proposal for the project was submitted by the US NASDAQ-listed company Advent Technologies and involves the development, design and manufacture of state-of-the-art fuel cells (HT-PM) and electrolytes for the production of electricity, heat and green hydrogen.

Moreover, it also foresees the development of industrial facilities and research and development facilities in Greece for the design and creation of fuel cell systems with a total generated electrical power of 400 MW and electrolysis units with a total power of 4.65 GW.

The initial investment proposal was for €780 million but at the first phase involves a €24 million grant.

The HiPo project was officially approved by the European Commission (EC) in July 2022 and is considered to be an Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI).

The Commission’s first set of IPCEI projects bare the name IPCEI HyTech and during the initial phase the EC approved 41 projects across 15 EU countries, awarding €5.4 billion in public funding.

Advent is also seeking to secure additional funding to top up the total €60 million budget, as approved by the IPCEI.

HiPo’s Significance for Kozani and Greece

The project is particularly important for Kozani, not only because it will create 650 jobs, according to OT.gr, but because it is essential for Kozani’s green transition from lignite mining to green energy.

Kozani was once Greece’s largest lignite mining region in Greece and host to the country’s biggest coal mining plan, but aspires to become the country’s renewable energy hub.

In addition to the HiPo project, Kozani is also the home of one of Europe’s largest solar energy farms, that will produce 350 GW of clean energy when it is completed, according to recent statements by the CEO of PPC Renewables.

The Delays and Unfair Competition

Since the approval of the project by the Commission, the funding approval process has been excessively delayed, according to statements by the CEO of Advent Technologies Vasilis Grigoriou to OT.gr.

Advent Technologies was finally sent an invitation to submit the necessary supporting documents for the project from Greece’s Ministry of Finance at the beginning of 2024, a year and a half after the EC’s approval, said Grigoriou.

Advent had expected to receive the state aid package from Greece’s Just Transition Fund (JTF) after submitting the papers, but this hasn’t happened yet, according to OT.gr.

Grigoriou explained to OT.gr that the excessive delays also create conditions of unfair competition, as company’s like France’s McPhy and Germany’s Sunfire received approvals for their projects at the same time and have already received funds.

In response to the comments by Advent’s CEO, the Ministry of Finance told OT.gr, “the competent services are in constant communication with the company and any delay that has occurred concerns the sending of uncertified financial data from the company’s side in the first phase. They were requested to send the correct data again, which is ether expected or has been sent by the company.”

“In any case, our goal is for the investment to go ahead, observing all the prescribed procedures, as we don’t want funds to remain unused,” said the Ministry official to OT.gr

About Advent Technologies

According to the company’s website, Advent Technologies Holdings, Inc. is a U.S. corporation listed on NASDAQ that “develops, manufactures, and assembles complete fuel cell systems, and the critical components for fuel cells in the renewable energy sector.”

It is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and has offices in California, USA, and in Greece, Denmark, Germany, and the Philippines.

Avent says that it has 190 patents issued, licensed, or pending for its fuel cell technology, and “holds the IP for next-generation HT-PEM that enable various fuels to function at high temperatures under extreme conditions – offering a flexible ‘Any Fuel. Anywhere’ option for the automotive, aviation, defense, oil and gas, marine and power generation sectors.”