WWF Greece’s study on the Long-Term Energy Plan of Greece demonstrates that burning lignite not only severely impacts human health and the environment, but is also against the interests of consumers and the Greek economy as a whole. Impressively enough, lignite’s share can drop to nearly zero already by 2035. Last, according to the scenarios examined, ambitious clean energy policies can lead to lower electricity costs by 12% compared to the persistence on lignite.

The study “Long Term Plan for the Greek Energy System” was prepared by the scientific team of the National Observatory of Athens on behalf of WWF Greece. Its objective is to examine the country’s possibilities for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions in the timeframe of 2035 and 2050, especially in the electricity sector.

Contrary to previous studies on the same topic, the results of this study clearly demonstrate the feasibility of reducing lignite’s share in electricity generation to nearly zero, even by 2035, and at the same tripling the share of renewable energy sources and making the most out of energy storage technologies.

By choosing such a path, Greece can significantly reduce its carbon footprint, while persistence on lignite will lead to CO2 emissions equal to Bulgaria’s emissions from the electricity sector in 2006!

Phasing out of lignite also proves financially more beneficial, as it will lead to lower electricity costs by even 12%, compared to the lignite-expansion scenario. For the coming decade, electricity costs seems to be independent of the policies to be followed, however from 2030 onwards the economic benefits of renewables become evident.

It is also remarkable that the Greek government’s and the Public Power Corporation’s enfant gâté , the new lignite station “Ptolemaida V” which is under construction, will lead to higher electricity costs compared to the costs of the Amyntaio station built in the ‘80s, even if expensive retrofit measures are applied for its upgrading.  

In a nutshell, the study’s results are:

  • Lignite’s share in electricity generation can drop to 6% by 2035 and 0% by 2050.
  • Natural gas reserves a significant role in all scenarios, as its share ranges between 26-33% by 2035 and 22-32% by 2050.
  • In all scenarios examined RES’ share in final consumption can more than triple during 2005-2035, while for the following years it will remain stable.
  • Ambitious energy efficiency policies can reduce the required investments for phasing out lignite by 2-5 billion euros.
  • If EU ETS allowance prices remain low, retrofitting existing lignite units proves beneficial compared to building new units.
  • The energy sector’s GHG emissions can drop significantly by 2035, mainly as a result of lignite’s shrinking share, while the largest possible reduction seems to by 64% by 2005.

The present study also debunks the myth that Greece has already reached its EU 2020 targets as repeatedly claimed by the ministry, since achieving a 40% RES share in final energy consumption by 2020, from 22,9% (2015 share) seems a midnight summer’s dream.

Last, the study’s outcomes also demonstrate that Greece can drastically reduce its reliance on oil-fired power stations if the necessary interconnection projects are implemented by 2030 and RES hybrid systems are built in non-interconnected, remote islands.

“Successive Greek governments have been trying to create a fait accompli by committing significant funds to the construction of new lignite units, without having beforehand examined their financial viability, or their impact on electricity costs. The country is navigating dark waters, as the there still does not exist a Long Term Energy Plan for the coming decades. Our study shows that the timely phasing out of lignite and the development of clean energy sources are by far the most sensible option for the country” says Nikos Mantzaris, a spokesman for WWF Greece.

 

Notes for editors:

  • This study analyzes and evaluates 5 different evolution scenarios of the Greek energy system, investigating the technological alternatives and the economic implications of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Link to the study.

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