More gas, coal, renewables and energy savings

Greece’s electricity production blueprint up to 2020 places increased emphasis on renewable sources (RES) and energy savings but also foresees a greater use of coal. The report by the National Energy Strategy Council (SEES), presented by Development Minister Christos Folias to the Cabinet yesterday, also excludes nuclear energy and envisages increased use of natural gas. Lignite, which presently accounts for more than half of the country’s electricity production, will be gradually substituted as the development of RES units gathers pace and deposits decline. The report, an unofficial copy of which was obtained by Kathimerini, proposes the tapping of the Elassona lignite deposit, estimated at 170 million tons, which can feed the operation of two 330-megawatt plants. SEES’s plan for energy savings includes the withdrawal of old cars and air conditioners, the generalized use of fluorescent lamps, the heating insulation of all public buildings, incentives for the insulation of private homes, compulsory temperature limits in public buildings and installation of automatic sensors in street lighting. It is estimated that the application of these measures could potentially save between 400 MW and 1,050 MW. Lags The most serious difficulty in covering projected demand, according to the report, is seen arising in the 2010-2015 period, due to the closure of several obsolete plants of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) and probable lags in the use of RES and shortfalls in energy savings. In total, the report estimates that meeting projected demand will require the addition to the system of 6,300 MW in new capacity. It recommends the creation of two coal-fired plants, but does not refer to specific locations which, according to sources, the original draft did. Moreover, it proposes the creation of six natural gas-fired stations by PPC and private producers, and calls for the tapping of domestic oil deposits which can cover about half of domestic demand. The Development Ministry is urged to set up a new agency which will issue the tenders for the new oil exploration and production rights. The report, as SEES Chairman Rafail Moisis recently told an energy conference, is simply a «compass» aspiring to give the market the necessary «signals» to move forward since – in a free market and a constantly changing environment – long-term energy planning is not practicable. The report was not officially published as, Development Ministry officials said, the document is not yet final.