Lazaros Maloutas: “We will achieve climate neutrality and digital transformation by 2030”
The Mayor of Kozani speaks exclusively to emea.gr and refers to the many and varied initiatives that have made Kozani a pioneer in actions related to the environment and digital transformation
With the vision of climate neutrality and digital transformation by 2030, the municipality of Kozani is moving. A municipality that is a model for the development of new technologies and green development both in Greece and in the European Union.
In fact, the inclusion of Kozani in the 100 climate-neutral and smart cities of the EU was a huge success, a fact that was highlighted in a very clever and successful way by the campaign of one of the best communication companies in our country, Choose Strategic Communications Parther.
“The collaboration with Choose Strategic Communications Partner proved to be very successful and was made possible thanks to the sponsorship of DEPA Marketing, which we warmly thank for its support. It is true that the campaign encapsulates in no time the challenges that the Municipality of Kozani has to face”, underlined the Mayor of Kozani.
Regarding the important actions of the municipality, Mr. Maloutas stressed, among other things, that “the flagships of all these initiatives are district heating, DIADYMA, the strategic plan of the Municipality of Kozani for the digital transformation, the action plan for sustainable energy (since 2013), the implementation of photovoltaic panels in our schools, as well as the Model Bioclimatic School Complex in the Zone of Active Urban Planning and the Data Transfer Network LoRa.
emeaGR: The Municipality of Kozani has joined the “100 climate-neutral and smartest cities in Europe by 2030”. What actions have you carried out in order to be included in this programme?
L. Maloutas: The Municipality of Kozani has been a pioneer for years in actions related to the environment and digitality. Flagships of all these initiatives are district heating, DIADYMA, the strategic plan of the Municipality of Kozani for the digital transformation, the action plan for sustainable energy (since 2013), the implementation of photovoltaic panels in our schools, as well as the Model Bioclimatic School Complex in the Active Urban Planning Zone, the LoRa data transmission network, etc.
The above projects document the involvement of the Municipality of Kozani with these issues, all the previous years. But the great challenge we have to face from now on requires a comprehensive operational plan to achieve climate neutrality and digital transformation by 2030. And this challenge concerns all public and private activities without exception.
emeaGR: Choose Strategic Communications Parther, one of the best companies in the communication industry, designed and implemented the campaign for the inclusion of Kozani in the “100 climate neutral and smart cities of the EU”, in a very smart way. What was the response of the public to this campaign?
L. Maloutas: The collaboration with Choose Strategic Communications Partner proved to be very successful and was made possible thanks to the sponsorship of DEPA Marketing, which we warmly thank for the support. It is true that the campaign encapsulates in no time the challenges that the Municipality of Kozani has to face, especially on the issue of the need to transform its development model, with the citizens’ response data being very encouraging.
emeaGR: “Green growth”, innovative and Startups are the future of entrepreneurship. What “steps” have you taken as a municipality in this direction?
L. Maloutas: In the Municipality of Kozani we have already completed the Action Plan for the Circular Economy, while we are already in the process of preparing innovative actions for funding.
At the same time, we are transforming the dormant BIOPA Wood into a modern type C business park, which aspires to host as a priority innovative actions and Startups in the fields of Renewable Energy Sources and digitality.
We also work closely with the University of Western Macedonia and CERTH, while we are hosting the first enclave of the Western Macedonia Innovation Zone at the SPA, in Kozani.
emeaGR: One of the most important problems that citizens across Europe have to face is the energy crisis. The municipality of Kozani managed with important initiatives to reduce energy costs. How did you achieve this really great achievement?
L.Maloutas: In the Municipality of Kozani, district heating has been operating for about 30 years, which utilizes the thermal energy of lignite plants. District heating is a pioneering project and at the same time the
the largest energy project of the Local Government. Today we are working towards the adaptation to the new National energy planning and the post-lignite era.
In this context, we systematically implement energy upgrades of municipal buildings. At the same time, through the Energy Community of the Municipality of Kozani, we implement a photovoltaic park that with the virtual net metering mechanism, that is with a self-generation of electricity, with a capacity of 6MW that covers all the electricity needs of the Municipality of Kozani. It is worth noting that we already have terms of connection with HEDNO.
In the same direction, we are studying a new energy pumping project of 8MW and an 8 MW hydroelectric one, so that we can get a production license in the autumn. In addition, the Municipal Water Supply and Sewerage Company of Kozani has already secured, through the Antonis Tritsis program, the creation of photovoltaic parks with a capacity of 3.5 MW, having secured the funding, as well as the terms of connection.
Finally, we are ready to proceed with the upgrading of all municipal lighting with LED lamps, in order to achieve significant savings, while we continue to prepare the energy upgrade of large energy-intensive municipal facilities (sports infrastructure, etc.).
emeaGR: The proposal of the Municipality of Kozani for the implementation of important projects amounting to 80 million euros, with the Public-Private Partnership, has already been launched. Can you tell us about the most important of them?
L. Maloutas: The proposal of the Municipality of Kozani, which has already been approved by the competent Interministerial PPP (Public and Private Partnerships) Committee, includes the partnership titled “Implementation of a multi-functional project of the Zone of Active Urban Planning of Kozani with PPP”.
The proposal includes the creation of the Technology Dissemination Center of the Zone of Active Urban Planning of Kozani, as well as sports facilities in school premises as well as new school buildings. The total of the nine subprojects of the proposal will cover the social, economic and educational needs of citizens living and working in the wider area of Kozani, while it will contribute both to the cultural development of the region and to the creation of a high level of education and sports infrastructure.
In detail, the PPP includes the construction of a “Technology Dissemination Center of the Kozani Active Urban Planning Zone”, which marks the creation of a National Pole of Innovation and Sustainability. At the same time, the SPA emerges as a hyperlocal training center.
Also, the existing educational infrastructure is upgraded, the sports infrastructure of the school units is strengthened, as well as the creation of a new closed swimming pool of 25×30 in the SPA.
emeaGR: What actions have you taken to attract big business from abroad, which will mean new, well-paid, jobs for the citizens of your municipality?
L. Maloutas: It is true that after the adoption of the new development law by the Greek Parliament, stronger development incentives are given to the energy axis. In this direction, in the Municipality of Kozani we project our central-weight position. We highlight the interconnection with the ports of Thessaloniki, Igoumenitsa, and the rest of the country.
It is worth noting that 50 km of Egnatia Odos cross the Municipality of Kozani. At the same time, there are three junctions in close proximity to the city, while there are two other junctions that meet the need for interconnection with North Macedonia and Albania.
At the same time, the industrial culture that has been developed for years in the region due to energy activity is a strong comparative advantage of the region. While with the beneficial for the Municipality and the citizens development of municipal properties, we have properties of the Municipality for hosting investments.