PPC to boost hydropower

The Public Power Corporation, Greece’s biggest electricity company, expects to increase power generation by its water-driven units, helped by strong rain and snowfall the past weeks. «With the current forecasts, we could produce as much as 4 million megawatt-hours from hydropower next year, from about 3 million megawatt hours in 2007,» George Leris, director at the company’s hydropower department, said today by phone. That would still be below the 6.5 million megawatt-hours that PPC generated in 2006. «We don’t plan to step up hydro-production as early as this month because our first priority is to refill our water tanks, whose level had fallen to their lowest since 1990,» Leris said. State-controlled PPC had record losses in its third quarter, partly because a drought the past two years forced the company to replace cheap hydro-production by boosting generation at natural gas-fired units that are more expensive to run. PPC plans to spend almost -2 billion over the next seven years boosting renewable generation capacity to 1,032 megawatts from 92 megawatts, capturing a fifth of the country’s renewable energy market. It will also build the world’s third-largest photovoltaic unit in southern Greece, PPC said in a presentation last week. Energy companies such as Iberdrola Renovables SA, the world’s biggest owner of wind-driven power plants, and Germany’s Conergy AG, have announced plans to set up renewable energy units in Greece. They’re encouraged by favorable weather conditions and government subsidies as the country seeks to lessen its dependence on oil.