Greece is almost saying goodbye to lignite

Nikos Mantzaris is quoted in an article in the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel which analyzes the coal-phase out paths of Greece and Germany and compares the cases of new coal plants “Ptolemaida 5” in Greece and “Datteln 4” in Germany with that of “Ostroleka C” in Poland for which the decision was made to cancel the coal character of the project.

The article titled “Greece is almost saying goodbye to lignite” was published (in German) at Der TagesSpiegel on July 17, 2020:

Griechenlands Beinahe-Abschied von der Kohle

The article explains the negative economics of Greek lignite plants and states that Greece with its forward-bearing plan to close all existing lignite plants by 2023 could be considered a pioneer, were it not for the construction of Ptolemaida 5 and its planned operation as a lignite plant until 2028. The article recalls the continuous hunt for exceptions that Greece sought in recent years so that the project of Ptolemaida 5 would receive the required funding and subsidies for its operation. The European Investment Bank, refused to fund its construction due to the fact that CO2 emissions would exceed the 550 gr CO2/KWh threshold which EIB set as a prerequisite to fund electricity producing infrastructure. Nonetheless, the project has received funding from the German development bank KfW.

Despite its negative economic prospects (the carbon costs alone are expected to reach 800 million euros for its 6 year operation period 2023-28), and the public recognition that the decision to construct Ptolemaida 5 was a mistake made throughout the years by all Greek political parties, its construction is expected to be completed, only due to the fact that its construction cost has already been spent.  

A similar case of construction of a new lignite plant despite Europe’s path beyond goal is the new Datteln 4 plant of Germany that was recently put into operation. In fact, the case of these two units is contrasted with the reversal of the decision to complete Ostroleka C as a lignite plant in Poland.

The article concludes by comparing Germany’s plan to compensate both the energy companies and the workers in the lignite plants through national funds, with the fact that financing the transition in Greece is decisively dependent on the level of resources that Greece will receive from the European Just Transition Fund. Nikos Mantzaris comments that the allocation of resources from the fund, as proposed by the European Commission is not fair since Greece will receive 1,7 billion euro whereas Germany, 5,2 billion and Poland, yet to commit to the climate neutrality goal, 8 billion euros. He points out that the allocation criteria need to become more just, in order to reflect the speed of transition and the magnitude of the challenge that each country has to face.

You can read the Green Tank’s report on the economics of Greek lignite plants here.

You can read the Green Tank’s report on the allocation criteria for the Just Transition Fund here.