The failure of the bid for the divestment of 40% of the Public Power Corporation’s (PPC) lignite capacity comes as no surprise. Once again, coal proves to be a dying market, unprofitable even if the huge cost on health and environment is ignored.

As WWF and Greenpeace have repeatedly stressed, through the European Commission’s decision to impose on Greece the sale of PPC’s lignite power plants and mines, competition law clashes with the EU’s climate policies. Greece is threatened with entrapment in a high-carbon energy system for many decades.

Even the purely financial assumptions on which the sale of PPC’s lignite assets was based has now vanished: coal is no longer the cheapest energy source, while compliance with the emissions limits for large combustion plants will require costly investments in retrofits. The result of the pressure on Greece to sell lignite capacity is a frantic effort to create new dirty coal packages that will attract investors: license for a new 450MW lignite power plant (Meliti II), favourable licensing conditions for operating plants (Megalopoli, supplied by the lowest thermal quality lignite deposits in the EU, and Meliti I). 

Last week, the market showed no interest in PPC’s “gifts” such us costly early retirement schemes, promises of a permanent capacity mechanism for lignite. As the bids for Megalopoli and Meliti resulted in no awards, it is time for both the European Commission and PPC to realize that Greece’s addiction with coal leads to a seriously unsustainable energy model, both in economic and in environmental terms. The only viable way forward for PPC is to pick up its own thread of innovation in renewables: back in 1982, PPC was the first energy utility to install a hybrid wind park on the Greek island of Kythnos.

In order to avoid a “hard” energy transition which will have a heavy impact on the consumers and the national economy, and also to contribute to the global fight against climate change, we call the Greek government to:

  • Cancel the construction of the new lignite plant Ptolemaida V
  • Halt the operation of the plants Amyntaio I and II, which have consumed their limited lifetime derogation hours.
  • Stop the negotiations with the European Commission for a permanent capacity mechanism for Greek lignite.
  • Adopt an ambitious long-term energy plan which will aim at a net zero carbon economy by 2050

We have only 12 years ahead of us to mitigate the devastating impacts of climate change. The time to act is now. Not only for future generations but for our own.

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