Greece’s power utility PPC will extend the operation of seven lignite units to 2025 to ensure the stability of the system, essentially freezing the company’s much touted lignite phase-out policy.
According to a decision by the Environment and Energy Ministry published on the Diavgeia website on Tuesday, PPC will extend the operating hours of its five lignite-fired power stations in Agios Dimitrios, in Meliti and in Megalopolis until 2025, as well as two oil-fired plants at Atherinolakkos in eastern Crete until 2024, when the Crete-Attica electricity interconnection is expected to start operating. The decision followed a relevant request from PPC.
PPC argues that the extension of operating hours in derogation of a European environmental directive concerning the emission of air pollutants, both lignite and oil, is considered necessary for the stability of the country’s electrical system, especially during periods of extreme weather due to climate change.
These units are already operating in derogation of the EU directive.
Both PPC’s request and its accompanying reasoning, as well as its adoption by the ministry, are an indirect admission of the country’s unpreparedness to phase out lignite by 2023, as the company pledged in its 2019 business plan. In the plan, its most polluting plant, Ptolemaida V, would continue to run until 2028.
Some sources argue that the energy crisis obliges the ministry to take a “more realistic look” at the government’s strategy of energy transition as specified in the National Energy and Climate Plan (ESEK). The current energy crisis have made coal and oil cheaper raw materials than natural gas.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has pledged in september 2019 that Greece would be fully decarbonized by 2028.